When Barry Jackson first saw new developments being built on the abandoned properties near his home, he was thrilled to see a change in scenery. Some of the vacant properties had welcomed in crime. A new tenant could help improve the neighborhood.Screenshot/WXIA
But, as WXIA reported Friday, Jackson and his neighbors immediately started worrying when they learned the properties were going to be used as a halfway house.
Jackson told WXIA:
“Parents shouldn’t worry for their child’s safety while their child is waiting for the bus. If there was some sort of public notice given out beforehand that would have at least given us a time to voice our opinions.”
Jackson said his neighbors were concerned they were not notified the halfway house would be built in their backyards. They are worried for their safety and the impact on the price of their homes.
Norman Bethea manages the halfway house and told WXIA the jurisdiction is managed by the state and not the local zoning. According to ShelterListings.org, Bethea works with Serenity House of Atlanta Ministries, a 501c nonprofit that provides temporary housing support to the homeless and those at risk.
Bethea told WXIA the property will be used to help people get back on their feet:
“Anybody can go through any type of situation and get caught and have nowhere to go, no one to turn to. That’s a terrible feeling.”
The American Planning Association (APA) noted there are several different types of halfway houses, including some that are funded by the government and others that are run privately.
The APA does not advocate for or against the development of halfway houses, but argues that limitations in zoning against them are often unconstitutional. Zoning for group housing varies depending on the local community.
Additionally, the organization noted that research shows the presence of a halfway house does not impact crime rates or housing prices within a community.
While research shows that communities are not impacted by the presence of a halfway home historically, neighbors in the Newton County neighborhood wish they had been given a public notice.