[Hpn] HOMELESS VETS FACILTY WILL EITHER BE APPROVED OR DENIED TODAY

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Mon, 31 Oct 2005 07:00:15 -0500


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      Homeless vets facility tops city commission agenda
      By Jason Mohr - IR Staff Writer - 10/31/05=20
      The Helena City Commission could approve or deny a contentious =
lower West Side homeless veterans facility this evening.=20

      The 12-person transitional home proposed for 1112 Leslie Ave. has =
created an uproar amongst those who live in what is mostly modest, =
single-family homes. The commission must decide whether or not to =
approve a "change in non-conforming use," which allows a historic use in =
a neighborhood where the rules have changed.

      City planners and project sponsors say the transitional home would =
be a more appropriate fit for the neighborhood.

      Most of the neighbors say it isn't. They have asked officials to =
uphold the integrity of the city's zoning laws, fearing a sag in =
property values and other unintended consequences.

      The home may be for veterans, but the project would be opposed =
whether it was an apartment complex or a retail outlet, neighbors say.

      "It's not about discrimination, it's about zoning," said Sherri =
McGuire, who lives next door to the proposed facility.=20

      The large building has housed businesses for decades, ranging from =
a pet shop to an alternative health care center.

      A few new details have emerged since the commission held a =
four-hour public hearing on the project Oct. 17.

      n City Attorney David Nielsen issued a legal opinion last week, =
saying the property has kept its "non-conforming use."

      Under city code, a building losing its "non-conforming use" must =
"revert" back to more restrictive residential uses.

      Nielsen's Oct. 25 memo states the property owned by Woodrow =
"Woody" Fowler has not intentionally or overtly abandoned the building's =
office uses.

      McGuire reads city code differently, which states the special =
designation ceases if the building is used for any other reason for more =
than one year.

      n The neighborhood, which has met regularly, has hired attorney =
John Shontz to guide them through the public hearings process. McGuire =
said pending tonight's decision, they'll decide on a next step, if any.

      n Nielsen will also issue an opinion on whether the veterans are a =
"protected" class under federal and state law, which prohibits =
discrimination in housing.

      Some homeless advocates say that anyone "regarded as" disabled =
receives Fair Housing Act protections. Nielsen has said he doesn't =
believe the veterans are protected, as such.

      n And while many studies have been published to the effect that =
property values won't drop after a group home joins the neighborhood, a =
study published in the University of Wisconsin Press journal Land =
Economics found the opposite "following the announcement of a group =
home's pending establishment," according to an online extract.

      Questions and answers

      The nonprofit Montana Veterans Foundation is spearheading the =
veterans home, which they call a transitional home. The house will =
provide a "continuum of care" to get homeless vets back on their feet, =
they say.

      President Carroll Jenkins and treasurer Mike Dalton provided the =
answered questions about the project. Jenkins is a psychotherapist and =
served in Vietnam. Mike Dalton is a U.S. Army vet and a real estate =
appraiser.

      How is the transitional home funded?

      A. $312,000 federal grant helps buy the building and remodel it. =
The foundation provides a 35 percent match. The Veterans Administration =
Homeless Veterans Program reimburses the foundation $25 daily for a =
tenant. The reimbursement rate didn't have a bearing on the number of =
tenants at the new house, Dalton said. For example, two tenants at the =
group's Willis Cruse House on Ninth Avenue pay $325 monthly rent.

      Will the foundation's Willis Cruse Home on Ninth Avenue be =
abandoned?

      The group has not made that decision.

      Who inspects the new facility? And why isn't it licensed?

      The home will be inspected in the VA's health and safety =
guidelines. The home isn't licensed because there's no applicable state =
license for a transitional home.

      Some have said the city's zoning laws allow the facility without a =
vote of the commission. Why apply for a "change in nonconforming use"?

      The home is not limited to the disabled. The foundation tries to =
meet the specific needs of each individual.

      Does the group file an informational tax return, also known as =
Form 990?

      The foundation didn't meet the income requirements last year to =
file a 990, but they'll have to file one after this year, Dalton said. =
The foundation received tax-exempt status last year, according to a =
national nonprofit clearinghouse.

      Some have criticized your federal grant application, which claims =
neighborhood support? What about hard feelings in the Leslie Avenue =
neighborhood?

      The grant was awarded on intent and past track record running the =
Willis Cruse Home for nearly two years, Dalton said. Federal grant =
approval came in only four days before the city approval began, but =
there was no attempt to mislead anyone, he said.

      "We knew that there is neighborhood support (for) our existent =
facility," Dalton said, citing letters of support. "We did talk to some =
people in the neighborhood who say, 'Yeah, no problem.' "

      Dalton said the foundation feels they're at the receiving end of a =
campaign to disrupt and discredit them.

      "We respect their rights to express their opinions," Dalton said. =
"Frankly, we're a group of volunteers trying to do a good thing...We've =
really tried to play with our cards up."

      - Jason Mohr, IR Staff Writer=20


      =
http://www.helenair.com/articles/2005/10/31/helena_top/a01103105_01.txt










    =20

William Charles Tinker

New Hampshire Homeless  / Founded 11-28-99
25 Granite Street
Northfield,N.H. 03276-1640  USA
Advocates,activists for disabled,displaced human rights.
1-603-286-2492
http://www.missingkids.com
http://www.nationalhomeless.org
http://www.newhampshirehomeless.org

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      <H1 class=3Dstyle1>Homeless vets facility tops city commission =
agenda</H1>
      <H3>By Jason Mohr - IR Staff Writer - 10/31/05</H3></TD></TR>
  <TR>
    <TD vAlign=3Dtop align=3Dleft height=3D128>
      <DIV id=3Dlyr>
      <P align=3Djustify><STRONG>The Helena City Commission could =
approve or deny=20
      a contentious lower West Side homeless veterans facility this =
evening.=20
      </STRONG>
      <P align=3Djustify>The 12-person transitional home proposed for =
1112 Leslie=20
      Ave. has created an uproar amongst those who live in what is =
mostly=20
      modest, single-family homes. The commission must decide whether or =
not to=20
      approve a =93change in non-conforming use,=94 which allows a =
historic use in a=20
      neighborhood where the rules have changed.<BR><BR>City planners =
and=20
      project sponsors say the transitional home would be a more =
appropriate fit=20
      for the neighborhood.<BR><BR>Most of the neighbors say it isn=92t. =
They have=20
      asked officials to uphold the integrity of the city=92s zoning =
laws, fearing=20
      a sag in property values and other unintended =
consequences.<BR><BR>The=20
      home may be for veterans, but the project would be opposed whether =
it was=20
      an apartment complex or a retail outlet, neighbors =
say.<BR><BR>=93It=92s not=20
      about discrimination, it=92s about zoning,=94 said Sherri McGuire, =
who lives=20
      next door to the proposed facility. </P>
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      The large building has housed businesses for decades, ranging from =
a pet=20
      shop to an alternative health care center.<BR><BR>A few new =
details have=20
      emerged since the commission held a four-hour public hearing on =
the=20
      project Oct. 17.<BR><BR>n City Attorney David Nielsen issued a =
legal=20
      opinion last week, saying the property has kept its =
=93non-conforming=20
      use.=94<BR><BR>Under city code, a building losing its =
=93non-conforming use=94=20
      must =93revert=94 back to more restrictive residential =
uses.<BR><BR>Nielsen=92s=20
      Oct. 25 memo states the property owned by Woodrow =93Woody=94 =
Fowler has not=20
      intentionally or overtly abandoned the building=92s office=20
      uses.<BR><BR>McGuire reads city code differently, which states the =
special=20
      designation ceases if the building is used for any other reason =
for more=20
      than one year.<BR><BR>n The neighborhood, which has met regularly, =
has=20
      hired attorney John Shontz to guide them through the public =
hearings=20
      process. McGuire said pending tonight=92s decision, they=92ll =
decide on a next=20
      step, if any.<BR><BR>n Nielsen will also issue an opinion on =
whether the=20
      veterans are a =93protected=94 class under federal and state law, =
which=20
      prohibits discrimination in housing.<BR><BR>Some homeless =
advocates say=20
      that anyone =93regarded as=94 disabled receives Fair Housing Act =
protections.=20
      Nielsen has said he doesn=92t believe the veterans are protected, =
as=20
      such.<BR><BR>n And while many studies have been published to the =
effect=20
      that property values won=92t drop after a group home joins the =
neighborhood,=20
      a study published in the University of Wisconsin Press journal =
Land=20
      Economics found the opposite =93following the announcement of a =
group home=92s=20
      pending establishment,=94 according to an online =
extract.<BR><BR>Questions=20
      and answers<BR><BR>The nonprofit Montana Veterans Foundation is=20
      spearheading the veterans home, which they call a transitional =
home. The=20
      house will provide a =93continuum of care=94 to get homeless vets =
back on=20
      their feet, they say.<BR><BR>President Carroll Jenkins and =
treasurer Mike=20
      Dalton provided the answered questions about the project. Jenkins =
is a=20
      psychotherapist and served in Vietnam. Mike Dalton is a U.S. Army =
vet and=20
      a real estate appraiser.<BR><BR>How is the transitional home=20
      funded?<BR><BR>A. $312,000 federal grant helps buy the building =
and=20
      remodel it. The foundation provides a 35 percent match. The =
Veterans=20
      Administration Homeless Veterans Program reimburses the foundation =
$25=20
      daily for a tenant. The reimbursement rate didn=92t have a bearing =
on the=20
      number of tenants at the new house, Dalton said. For example, two =
tenants=20
      at the group=92s Willis Cruse House on Ninth Avenue pay $325 =
monthly=20
      rent.<BR><BR>Will the foundation=92s Willis Cruse Home on Ninth =
Avenue be=20
      abandoned?<BR><BR>The group has not made that decision.<BR><BR>Who =

      inspects the new facility? And why isn=92t it licensed?<BR><BR>The =
home will=20
      be inspected in the VA=92s health and safety guidelines. The home =
isn=92t=20
      licensed because there=92s no applicable state license for a =
transitional=20
      home.<BR><BR>Some have said the city=92s zoning laws allow the =
facility=20
      without a vote of the commission. Why apply for a =93change in =
nonconforming=20
      use=94?<BR><BR>The home is not limited to the disabled. The =
foundation tries=20
      to meet the specific needs of each individual.<BR><BR>Does the =
group file=20
      an informational tax return, also known as Form 990?<BR><BR>The =
foundation=20
      didn=92t meet the income requirements last year to file a 990, but =
they=92ll=20
      have to file one after this year, Dalton said. The foundation =
received=20
      tax-exempt status last year, according to a national nonprofit=20
      clearinghouse.<BR><BR>Some have criticized your federal grant =
application,=20
      which claims neighborhood support? What about hard feelings in the =
Leslie=20
      Avenue neighborhood?<BR><BR>The grant was awarded on intent and =
past track=20
      record running the Willis Cruse Home for nearly two years, Dalton =
said.=20
      Federal grant approval came in only four days before the city =
approval=20
      began, but there was no attempt to mislead anyone, he =
said.<BR><BR>=93We=20
      knew that there is neighborhood support (for) our existent =
facility,=94=20
      Dalton said, citing letters of support. =93We did talk to some =
people in the=20
      neighborhood who say, =91Yeah, no problem.=92 =94<BR><BR>Dalton =
said the=20
      foundation feels they=92re at the receiving end of a campaign to =
disrupt and=20
      discredit them.<BR><BR>=93We respect their rights to express their =

      opinions,=94 Dalton said. =93Frankly, we=92re a group of =
volunteers trying to do=20
      a good thing...We=92ve really tried to play with our cards =
up.=94<BR><BR>=97=20
      Jason Mohr, IR Staff Writer </DIV>
      <P align=3Djustify>&nbsp;</P>
      <P align=3Djustify><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><A=20
      =
href=3D"http://www.helenair.com/articles/2005/10/31/helena_top/a01103105_=
01.txt">http://www.helenair.com/articles/2005/10/31/helena_top/a01103105_=
01.txt</A></FONT></P>
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      <P =
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<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>William Charles Tinker</FONT></DIV>
<DIV>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2>New Hampshire Homeless&nbsp; / Founded=20
11-28-99<BR>25 Granite Street<BR>Northfield,N.H. 03276-1640&nbsp;=20
USA<BR>Advocates,activists for disabled,displaced human=20
rights.<BR>1-603-286-2492<BR><A=20
href=3D"http://www.missingkids.com">http://www.missingkids.com</A><BR><A =

href=3D"http://www.nationalhomeless.org">http://www.nationalhomeless.org<=
/A><BR><A=20
href=3D"http://www.newhampshirehomeless.org">http://www.newhampshirehomel=
ess.org</A><BR></FONT></DIV></BODY></HTML>

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