Who’ll help the homeless? Not Moorhead

Moorhead’s City Council has voted unanimously to oppose housing for the homeless.

Churches United has applied for a $6 million state grant for the apartment complex for chronically homeless and homeless families.

Predictably, the neighbors objected.

“Shoplifting will go up and theft from the neighborhoods, from yards will go up. I know this. I’m a Fargo police officer,” Susan Dealing said, according to the Fargo Forum. “This kind of development is not going to bring any positive to our neighborhood.”

She wasn’t the only cop to mobilize the opposition.

“A Realtor told her, and I quote, ‘You don’t want to buy a house there,’ ” Fargo police officer Jason Abel said.

Abel said he bristles at the idea that this is NIMBY — not in my backyard — at its worst.

“For someone to tell me that I don’t care about the homeless, I get pretty upset,” Abel said. “That’s the reason I became a cop. I care.”

The City Council thinks some property downtown near the railroad tracks is more appropriate for the homeless. But the agency says the neighborhood has amenities such as grocery stores and bus stops.

Council members said there is little the city can do to stop the project. City Manager Michael Redlinger said Churches United already owns the site and it’s zoned for mixed-use.

“People can buy land, and they can build things based on the zoning that it is,” Mayor Del Rae Williams said.

Redlinger said the city can work with the planning department on fencing or shrubbery buffer zones between the existing neighborhoods and the apartment complex, to which someone in the audience whispered, “That’s not going to do anything.”

Redlinger said the apartment complex would also fall into the city’s rental registry program. This means, in part, that if there is a certain level of police activity with any particular tenant, the city works with the property owners to get that tenant evicted. Churches United has also said registered sex offenders will not be allowed to live in the complex.

Councilman Jim Haney proposed the resolution of nonsupport. His motion, which was not on the agenda and came at the end of an hourlong conversation, elicited loud applause from the audience.

Council members Heidi Durand and Chuck Hendrickson showed some concern that such a vote would be a vote against the project entirely. Durand and others said they’d like to work with Churches United to find a different location.

To which Haney replied: “To be honest with you, I question whether there’s a need for it anyplace,” another comment that had frustrated neighbors clapping.