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Homeless Housing Concerns In Norman

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Discussion of a new homeless community in Norman has nearby neighbors concerned. Discussion of a new homeless community in Norman has nearby neighbors concerned.
NORMAN, Oklahoma -

Discussion of a new homeless community in Norman has nearby neighbors concerned. Staff at “Food and Shelter” says they've outgrown its downtown space and want to expand and blend into an existing neighborhood.

On an undeveloped property the hope is to build 32 small one and two bedroom homes. Neighbors across the street are concerned about what may come with a new homeless community.

“It’s peaceful and quiet and I love the field. I love being able to look out at the wildlife,” said Hope Ewing.

The idea is to build 32 transitional homes for homeless individuals and families. The one bedroom will be only 279 square feet and two bedrooms will be a little less than double that size. Those homes would surround a new soup kitchen and administration building.

“It is our job to care for people in need. And we have to be somewhere. Our community needs this,” said Executive Director of Food and Shelter, April Heiple.

Heiple understands the push back from neighbors. She explains they want to be good neighbors and blend into the neighborhood.

“There’s something very important about having your own front porch, having your own four walls,” said Heiple.

Neighbors living on Reed Street fear that despite Food and Shelter's best effort to accomplish its vision, the community will only create more problems for the area.

“I know they are not all bad, but majority of them seem to be very mentally ill and there’s a chance of violence. I feel like they are trying to hide these people that are a problem downtown by putting them over here and having us deal with them,” said Ewing.

On August 25, Norman's City Council will have the final reading of the rezoning proposal then vote.

If approved, Food and Shelter says they are ready to break ground immediately.

Despite the backlash from neighbors, Heiple explains she's received several letters from the community in support of the forward-thinking homeless community.

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