Single-parent housing center of fight between church, neighboring community

June 20, 2012 4:36:24 PM PDT
A housing fight is underway between a church in Meyerland and its neighbors. The church wants to help some single mothers, but some nearby residents don't think that's a good idea.

They say the plan could hurt the value of their homes and want the plan to build single-parent housing stopped. But there may not be much they can do about it.

A set of duplexes is being planned along west Bellfort near Balmforth. The program would allow carefully screened single parents to live in transitional housing for nine to 12 months before getting out on their own.

Nearby residents say it's a great a idea, but just not in their neighborhood.

The grassy, unassuming lot in Meyerland, sandwiched in between two churches, has neighbors at odds with the 56-year-old St. John's Presbyterian Church.

"There are a lot of single mothers who fit the criteria," Pastor Jon Burnham said.

"It's a good idea and I agree with that, it's a perfect idea, but we are concerned about our property," homeowner Pedro Navarro said.

St. John's is partnering with the Presbyterian Children's Homes and Services. They plan to construct four duplexes that will become transitional housing for the Houston Single Parent Family Program. It aims to help single parents get back on their feet, into full-time jobs and a home of their own.

A master's level social worker would be on-site full time overseeing the pre-screened mothers.

"There are a lot of single mothers who fit the criteria and who want to improve their lives, the lives of their children, but they just need a little help," Burnham said.

Though they understand the good intentions, homeowners directly behind the project are concerned about its long-term effects.

"See, everything when it's new looks good. But through the years, you never know what kind of people they are going to bring, so property might depreciate," Navarro said.

St. John's Presbyterian Church says they have already lined up a builder and just want to help single parents in need get to a new level in life.

"On out into their own apartment and with a job and with better parenting skills and a more stable family life and hope for a future," Burnham said.

The church says it already owns the lot and plans to move forward with a groundbreaking in mid 2013.

You can read more on this story in the Bellaire Examiner, one of our Houston Community Newspaper partners online.

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