Neighbors concerned about homeless project

By Elizabeth Campbell, General assignment reporter, ecampbell@wjxt.com
Published On: Apr 03 2014 05:46:22 AM EDT
Updated On: Apr 03 2014 06:46:17 AM EDT
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The group Ability Housing wants to turn a Springfield apartment complex into a place for homeless people to live. Many people living in Springfield said this is the last thing their community needs.

Ability Housing is holding a community meeting, Thursday night, to ease concerns that neighbors have about the homeless housing project coming to Springfield.

Ability Housing said it received a state-funded grant to renovate the units of the apartment complex located at 139 Cottage Avenue, but residents are concerned about who will be living there once the building is finished.

“Diagnosed mental illness and other problems like substance abuse, drug abuse, any array of other problems, like documented behavioral problems. So it's essentially a residential facility for the chronically homeless.,” said Vice President of the Springfield Preservation and Revitalization Council, JoAnn Tredennick.

Tredennick said those are the type of problems a new homeless facility would bring to Springfield. She said S.P.A.R. was blind-sided by Ability Housing's plan to turn a Springfield apartment complex into a homeless housing project.

“All I can tell you is to our knowledge, nobody at the city was aware that this project was going to be taking place. Only spoken to our city council person, our district council person, who had no idea that this project was coming in,” said Tredennick.

Executive Director of Ability Housing, Shannon Nazworth, said they got a grant from the state to turn a deteriorating complex into a renovated one to help Veterans. She said they will work hand-and-hand with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and Springfield residents to make sure each participating Veteran has a high quality of life and is positively affecting the community.

“We have evicted before on our other properties, and if necessary we would evict here. We have always been a good neighbor. Every community we have moved into, we have been welcomed,” said Nazworth.

A community meeting planned give neighbors more insight on the Ability Housing’s homeless housing project, is scheduled to take place Thursday at 6:30 p.m. at the Woman’s Club Building located at West 7th Street in Springfield.

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