Zoning issues sent plans for a 24-unit homeless shelter in Hastings back to the drawing board.
The City Council's three-member planning committee unanimously voted against exploring zoning changes in a historically preserved residential area for the potential eastern Hastings shelter on Tuesday morning. Frazier Recovery Homes, a company that provides recovery housing for homeless and other individuals, proposed to purchase the former Caturia-Smidt Funeral Home and place the shelter there, but the service would have required amendments to the city code.
"Overall, it sounds like Hastings is open to the idea, just not in the location," said Franki Rezek, the founder of Frazier, in an interview after the meeting.
Rezek said she is already starting to explore other options and is still committed to finding a location for a shelter in the city.
Planning committee members stressed the decision was about zoning issues, not to ignore homelessness.
"You know we're not opposed to the structure that Frazier has," said council and committee member Joe Balsanek. "As far as I'm concerned, it is a good concept and I hope that they do find something."
Despite his support for the project, Balsanek said the size of the proposal does bring some concerns for him.
"The more residents you have, the more you have coming and going," he said. "So it becomes that much more high profile."
During the meeting, several area residents pushed against the proposed shelter — citing the neighborhood's historic background and other concerns surrounding safety.
Resident pushback is typical though, Rezek said. In the meeting, she stressed many of the rules and policies in place to prevent issues from taking place.
"Most of the homeless providers get pushback and it's always about educating the neighbors who are coming in," she said.
Balsanek said it'll likely be a hurdle the organization and city will have to deal with regardless of location. After the meeting, he gave Rezek ideas for other potential locations in Hastings.
Frazier already operates three group residential houses in Hastings that house six people each. The plan for the expanded shelter arose after Cochran Recovery Services, a former 32-bed male shelter, closed in 2017.
Frazier's potential shelter would offer expanded services for residents, like case management and offerings through other community organizations, Rezek said. It'd be the first for the organization that has so far focused on smaller recovery homes.
"It's a community issue right? So the more people that are involved, the healthier the community is and better outcomes," she said.
Hastings has long been a strong location for its services too and she highlighted the strong relationship between the city's homeless population and the police department.
"We've had great success in getting clients employed there and they move on and they become tax payers," Rezek said.