Neighbors concerned over proposed transitional housing in Whitfi - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Neighbors concerned over proposed transitional housing in Whitfield Co.

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WHITFIELD COUNTY, GA (WRCB) -

A new transitional housing facility could be headed to Whitfield County, if the county commission votes to rezone the property building.

However, some citizens are concerned about bringing former inmates to proposed building, which sits within miles of a neighborhood.

Saturday afternoon, advocates and organizers hosted a community forum to help answer questions from community members.

Kingdom United Ministries donated land and a building to Oasis of Love for the transitional housing facility. The building would be located off Rauschenberg Road.

The home would house roughly 8 recently released inmates to start with to help them transition from prison life into society, but could potentially house up to 26 men.

"I think everybody has the best interest of the community and of these men that they want to house here in mind," said Jevins Jenson, a Whitfield County resident who attended the meeting.

Some community members at the meeting raised concerns over the location. They believe the facility would be too close to their neighborhood.

Jenson said he doesn't live directly next to the property, but understands why families might be nervous about the idea.

"I definitely support their goals," said Jenson, "I was trying to learn more about the facility, the area, and the neighbors. And really being empathetic towards these neighbors and seeing what their concerns were."

Oasis of Love director Dr. Randell O'Neal said the home is crucial to help former convicts, who would come from Walker State Prison. He said the transitional home would lower the number of offenders returning to prison.

"Definitely support the goals of helping these men and getting back into society and keeping the recidivism rate as low as possible," echoed Jenson.

The transitional home will also have certain restrictions. The men living there can not be sex offenders, must complete classes while at Walker State Prison, and they can't stay at the transitional facility longer than 2 years.

"They do have a pretty high standard of these people that are coming back into society," Jenson said he learned.

Jenson said the meeting answered a lot of questions, but he hopes there will be more opportunities to talk about the potential complex.

"I still want to learn a little bit more," said Jenson, "I hope that we could compromise with the neighbors because I am empathetic towards the local neighbors here."

In order for the transitional housing to move forward, the building must be rezoned from rural residential housing to transitional housing.

Whitfield County commissioners said another public hearing on that rezoning is set for August.

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