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February 25, 2018

LGBT shelter drops site, cites threat

LGBT shelter drops site, cites threat

A Little Rock nonprofit hoping to buy a home to harbor young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people withdrew its…

A Little Rock nonprofit hoping to buy a home to harbor young lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people withdrew its permit application after a potential neighbor threatened to publicize the address, according to the group’s leader.

Lucie’s Place already runs a four-bed residence for young LGBT adults who don’t have homes, said Penelope Poppers, the executive director. Young people who need a place to live can stay in the home for up to a year and use the time to find a job, continue their education or save money.

But central Arkansas’ need is far greater than four beds, Poppers said, because gay and transgender young adults are more likely to end up without homes. They make up between 20 to 40 percent of the homeless youth population in the United States, whereas they comprise 5 to 10 percent of the general youth population, according to the Center for American Progress.

The nonprofit had applied for a conditional use permit to operate a seven-bed home in the Leawood neighborhood of Little Rock, southwest of Cammack Village, Poppers said. The permit allows for the group to use a residential home that isn’t specifically zoned for that purpose.

After finding the house, the group paid the permit application fee, surveyed the land and had the home inspected, which cost about $1,000 in total.

But in August, Poppers received an email from someone who said she did not want to live “anywhere near a home like this.” The email had no contact information, but Poppers said she believes it’s from a woman who lives a few minutes away from the home. The email was first reported by the Arkansas Times.

“Since I have personal experience running a home like this, I am aware of the dangers involved, from a resident disclosing the location of the home, to a person tracking them down, to sneaking drugs in, to having a criminal background that’s undisclosed,” the email said.

The emailer wrote of intentions to make it a “personal mission to get all of our neighbors involved in disclosing the location of this home to anyone that we can and fighting the forward motion of this plan.”

“I cannot even believe that you would be considering opening a home of this nature in a residential neighborhood, that has many many children all around it,” the email said. It concluded by calling the home a “wonderful idea, just not in this neighborhood!”

After a couple days of consideration, Poppers and her staff decided to withdraw the permit application and look somewhere else. It was the promise to disclose the home’s address that was particularly threatening, she said.

Lucie’s Place does not publicly disclose the location of its current home or future homes to ensure residents feel safe and won’t become targets of vandalism or violence, Poppers said.

“She made it very clear she was going to take that away from us,” she said.

Poppers said she was also bothered by the emailer’s insistence that the goal of Lucie’s Place was acceptable in theory, just not in practice.

“It’s this idea that if you sort of smile when you say these horrible things that it makes it better,” Poppers said.

After pulling the permit request, the organization found a new, eight-bed home closer to downtown, Poppers said. The group will likely submit a permit application next week and start the process again, she said.

After the application is submitted, the group will send mailers to all neighbors within 200 feet of the new property informing them of its intent, Poppers said. It will host a public hearing. Poppers will answer questions from concerned residents. Then, if the city board approves the permit, the group will wait an additional 30 days to ensure no other opposition surfaces, she said.

Poppers said she’s optimistic. The new home is more centrally located and on a bus route, which is ideal for the people the group serves.

In addition to the residences, Lucie’s Place also staffs a walk-in center for those who need resume and job application assistance, cellphone minutes, and bus passes, among other things.

Metro on 09/16/2017

Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette LGBT shelter drops site, cites threat

LGBT shelter drops site, cites threat


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