LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – There is a buzz on a Little Rock block.
Along Harmon Drive in the Leawood neighborhood, people are talking about what could’ve been.
“There was a petition to zone the house as a Conditional Use Permit for transitional living,” says neighbor John St. Clair.
Lucie’s Place, a non-profit organization that helps homeless LGBTQ youth, applied for a Conditional Use Permit with hopes to turn a home on Harmon Drive into a Safe Haven for LGBTQ youth, ages 18-25, who might be escaping abusive relationships or were abandoned… but not anymore.
“We’ve never gotten anything threatening before,” says Lucie’s Place Executive Director Penelope Poppers. “We’ve gotten anti-LGBT messages and things like that before.”
Poppers says he received this e-mail from someone living on Harmon Drive.
“I just received notification that there is some sort of halfway house or homeless shelter being proposed on Harmon, For LGBTQ persons who are at risk of being homeless. We are supposed to make clear if we oppose or support this idea.
We are completely and 100% opposed to this happening in our neighborhood! While I am completely in support of helping any who are in the situation of homelessness, and used to run a shelter myself in Houston, I am absolutely opposed to this happening in our residential neighborhood. We purchased a home in this neighborhood specifically because it was safe for our children. I do not want to live anywhere near a home like this. Since I have personal experience running a home like this, I am aware of the dangers involved, from a resident disclosing the location of the home, to a person tracking them down, to sneaking drugs in, to having a criminal background that’s undisclosed, etc. This is a terrible idea for our neighborhood! If this passes, I will make it my personal mission to get all of our neighbors involved in disclosing the location of this home to anyone that we can and fighting the forward motion of this plan. This is absolutely unacceptable for this area. I’ve talked to all the neighbors within 500 feet of our house, and every single one of them feels the same way. We will all be attending the meeting to voice our opposition, but if this goes through we will disclose the location of this home to anyone who wants to know, and will fight this every step of the way. I cannot even believe that you would be considering opening a home of this nature in a residential neighborhood, that has many many children all around it. Not to mention elderly, Christians who completely oppose that lifestyle, etc. please take this idea and plant it elsewhere. I think it’s a wonderful idea, just not in this neighborhood!”
“This e-mail reinforces the very reason why we have to exist,” says Poppers.
One family living across the street says they’re not worried about who’s living in the home but their property values.
“I know that if there’s a homeless shelter zoned on your street your property value would be directly affected by that,” says St. Clair.
Poppers withdrew the Conditional Use Permit request because of the threat.
While the plans are off the buzz continues. One man says a neighbor stopped at his home talking with him about why the Safe Haven isn’t welcomed.
“[The] concerns expressed [were] we have so many schools nearby with young children that it might not be the best influence,” says neighbor Jim Barnhill.
Poppers says seven people would’ve lived in the home. They’re already in the process of finding another home to buy.