The controversial proposed supportive housing facility for Alaska Avenue in Avondale was the main subject of a heated session of City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee on Sept. 16, which resulted in the committee’s decision to put the project on hold for two weeks. The committee also announced its intent to allocate $5,000 for an independent mediator, which the city administration will be responsible for finding.
A slew of Avondale community members spoke out in opposition of the project, articulating concern thatpredominantly poor black neighborhoods such as Avondale are “targeted” for low-income housing projects. Those in support of the project, including representatives from potential developer and manager National Church Residences (NCR) and homeless advocates, insist a spread of misinformation is responsible for the tension and that the complex is a necessary step in moving forward with the city’s 2008 Homeless to Homes Plan.
The project, coined Commons at Alaska, would be a 99-unit facility providing residency and supportive services to the homeless, particularly those with with severe mental health issues, physical disabilities and histories of substance abuse. The project, which gained City Council’s official support in February, has recently come under scrutiny from community group Avondale 29, Alaska Avenue residents and other community stakeholders who are expressing public distaste for the facility, which they worry will threaten safety and revitalization efforts in the neighborhood.
Both sides are expected to once again go in front of the Budget & Finance Committee in a Sept. 30 meeting.