Neighbors have worries over proposed homeless shelter

Neighbors have worries over proposed homeless shelter
The group wants to turn Family Life Restoration Center’s thrift store into a shelter that would help the homeless get back on their feet and find jobs. (WSBTV.com News Staff)

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Some Cobb County residents are raising concerns about a homeless shelter that's been suggested for their neighborhood, saying it will have a negative impact on the community.

Last year, a similar proposal failed, but it’s back on the table with strong opposition.

“For it to be right across the street, three houses down from the main roadway from my house, it’s kind of scary,” said Lesha Woodbridge, who lives in the Walden Crossing neighborhood right off Mableton Parkway.

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Across the street is Family Life Restoration Center’s thrift store. The group wants to turn it into a shelter that would help the homeless get back on their feet and find jobs.

“True or false? Is this a homeless shelter?” Channel 2 Cobb County Bureau Chief Chris Jose asked Family Life Restoration Center’s executive director, Luther Washington.

“Not in a traditional sense,” Washington said.

He told Jose the shelter would not be a place where dozens of people are lined up outside.

“We’re going to start with the five beds, and then we can eventually grow as needed,” Washington said.

Last summer, a push for a 50-bed shelter was met with strong opposition. The zoning proposal failed.

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Cobb County Commissioner Lisa Cupid said she reached out to Washington during the cold snap a few weeks ago because the homeless needed a warm place to stay.

That conversation led to a bigger discussion about the need for homeless resources in her district.

“We’re trying to get these folks the support they need so they can live the American dream just like us,” Washington said.

Homeowners told Jose they’re worried about property values dipping and safety in the neighborhood.

A new school is under construction, and a homeless shelter nearby worries parents.

“People are going to want to sell their house. They’re not going to want to be here,” Woodbridge said.

As of right now, the shelter is only an idea.

If the plan moves forward, the Family Life Restoration Center will apply for a special land-use permit, which is different than a zoning application.

The group will have to apply for the permit every year.