Halfway house proposed in north Valdosta neighborhood

Published: Jan. 16, 2020 at 6:21 PM EST
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By: Emma Wheeler | WCTV Eyewitness News

January 16, 2020

VALDOSTA, Ga. (WCTV) -- One Valdosta neighborhood is closing its doors to a new proposal to transform one of the homes to a halfway house.

The Valdosta Plan Commission is set to hold a public hearing on a conditional use permit for a home on Forrest Run Circle. The owners of the home are looking to turn in to a temporary home for ex-offenders.

But many residents in the area oppose the project.

"Not the best thing for a community, a small, tight community to have ex-prisoners that you don't know what their crimes are," said neighbor Robert Creel. "There's middle schoolers that walk around, probably fifteen of them, to the bus stop here. There's probably five high schoolers in this neighborhood. I mean, it's small but most of the houses have kids."

The city said the plans call for the home to be part of the 'Re-entry Partnership Housing Program' through the Department of Community Supervision.

It would provide stable housing and assistance for six men who are released from prison, but would otherwise have no where else to go.

"Totally against it. This is a nice, quiet neighborhood. We have kids, it's a family neighborhood. We have a school right down the street, definitely is not something we need to have in this neighborhood," said Billy Wright, who owns a home just down the street. "Kids, we have several that go to VSU here. That's going to make them move, that's going to put them in a different place. Just all around not a good situation for a neighborhood. Something like that needs to be out far away, in the country or away from neighborhoods, kids and families."

The RPH program is designed to provide stability and the resources to help individuals stay crime free.

Owners of the property said Thursday that the home will be for low level and first time offenders. They said sex offenders or individuals with violent history will not be allowed. They also intend to do regular drug screens, and provide access and transportation to jobs and job support programs.

Property owners said they understand the neighborhood's concerns, but everyone deserves a second chance.

"We're a part of this community. I'm a former veteran, my mom has been doing this type of work for over forty years. There's a need, there's a need in the state of Georgia, there's a need in the City of Valdosta," said homeowner Chad Beiley. "The people that we're wanting to help, these are redeemable people. They deserve a second shot."

They will be holding a question and answer session on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the property on Forrest Run Circle.

The City Plan Commission will host a public hearing on January 27. City Council will have the ultimate vote, which is expected to take place in February.