Transitional home for former inmates raises concerns

December 19, 2012 3:52:06 PM PST
A facility that helps women recently released from prison is under debate, as the location of Angela House is being considered.

The archdiocese is considering moving the home from its current location in north Houston to Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church on the southeast side, and not everyone is on board with that idea.

Delfina Echavarria is raising her four daughters across the street from to Our Lady of Mount Carmel, but now, she's worried.

She said, "I'm just scared of the unknown, what it will bring to the area, to the neighborhood."

She's upset because the archdiocese is planning to move a transitional women's home to the Mount Carmel campus. Angela House is currently on the city's north side, where it houses 10 to 15 women recently released from prison. Sister Maureen O'Connell is the program's founder.

"This is important work," she said. "Women who choose to make a change in their lives need all the support they can get."

Supporters point out all the women who would live at the home have been thoroughly screened before they can participate in the program, but the residents nearby say this is simply not what they want.

June Adams, a concerned neighbor, told the Houston City Council, "We support sisters' ministries, but our primary concerns are for the safety of the children and the many elderly people who live in that neighborhood."

Both sides took their concerns to city hall this week. Council member James Rodriguez supports the neighbors, but admits there may be no legal way to stop the project.

"Hopefully they'll be good neighbors, but I still oppose this facility," Rodriguez said. "There's no city money. This is not a city project. This is brought to us by the archdiocese."

Frustrated neighbors say they vow to return to city hall or protest anywhere else they can. Late Wednesday afternoon the archdiocese released a statement that said the cardinal supports Angela House, its mission and its move to Mount Carmel.


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