Council Embraces Safe Haven

Council Embraces Safe Haven

Home for homeless approved.

Despite a group of upset neighbors, City Council voted Saturday to give the green light to a proposal by the Community Service Board to create a multi-family residential building on North Patrick Street. Although debate on the subject was limited to the architectural merit of the project, many neighbors were concerned about the clientele the project would bring into the neighborhood.

“This is an important issue, and the Community Service Board has not considered all of the ramifications,” said Amy Brock, who lives nearby. “Decisions about this property were made behind closed doors, and there has been an intentional lack of transparency here.”

The property at 115 North Patrick Street was, until last year, a clubhouse operated by the city’s Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Substance Abuse. When the clubhouse relocated, members of the Community Service Board began preparations to locate a “Safe Haven” shelter there. The plans call for the renovated building to provide “permanent supportive housing” for 12 homeless men and women.

“Their behavior is unpredictable,” said Walter Grace, a neighbor who opposes the project. “The city would be liable if something happens.”

After hearing arguments for and against the proposed renovation of the building, the City Council voted to approve the project.

“I know in my heart that once this property is up and running, the neighbors will be proud of the way it operates,” said Councilman Rob Krupicka, adding that he lives near a group home in Del Ray. “I feel like my children are safe.”

After the vote, Mayor Bill Euille reminded advocates and detractors that the Safe Haven concept was designed to help the city’s most vulnerable residents.

“The people we are talking about are citizens of Alexandria,” Euille said. “We have a responsibility to house them and take care of them.”