The Ed Rachal Foundation is offering the city a $50,000 grant to increase police patrols to combat drug trafficking and prostitution near the old Lamar Elementary school campus.
The foundation, which is renovating the old Lamar Elementary for the Good Samaritan Shelter, is asking police to increase patrols in the area bordered by the Crosstown Expressway, Agnes Street, Port Avenue, Mary Street, Bluntzer Street, Morris Street, and 19th Street.
The money will fund overtime hours for officers to crack down on crime.
The foundation's proposal asks that overtime officers be assigned to ride bikes, enduros (motorcycles), or all-terrain vehicles to canvass the area. It's requesting officers investigate houses and apartments where there is possible drug activity. The non-profit is also asking that officers conduct sting operations to arrest prostitutes, and the men who solicit them.
The proposed grant covers overtime over a 36-week period.
The Corpus Christi City Council will vote on whether or not to accept the grant during Tuesday's city council meeting.
Residents who could see increased police patrols in their neighborhood have recently voiced their concerns after finding out the Ed Rachal Foundation was renovating the old school for the Good Samaritan Shelter. The shelter would house 300 people. The current shelter at the intersection of Alameda and Kinney currently houses 200 people.
Several neighbors appeared at the Corpus Christi Planning Commission, and at recent city council meetings, and told council members they already deal with drug dealing and prostitution in their area. They've said adding a homeless shelter would compound the problem.
After hearing their concerns, the planning commission unanimously voted against a rezoning request that was necessary for the building to operate as a shelter.
Now, the Ed Rachal Foundation has stepped in to work with neighbors. According to the nonprofit's CEO and Board Secretary Paul Altheide, the foundation has spoken with residents and are trying to make improvements.
"That neighborhood needs increased police presence," Altheide said. "We're getting feedback form the neighbors. This in an effort to clean up the area."
Meanwhile, Good Samaritan Rescue Mission's move to the neighborhood is in limbo. The shelter's Executive Director Carole Murphrey told KRIS 6 News on Wednesday her organization is unsure about moving into the area.
"I don't see how we can move over there when the neighbors are so completely against it," Murphrey said.
Murphrey and other Good Samaritan leaders will meet with the Ed Rachal Foundation on Sunday morning to talk about the future of the project.
In the meantime, Altheide said whether the shelter moves in or not, the nonprofit will move forward to get the zoning change. He's not sure what will be done with the property but the nonprofit will continue to clean up the neighborhood around the old Lamar Elementary.
Altheide said they have already purchased several vacant homes along 19th Street to get rid of areas where transients and drug users can hide.
"You can drive down 19th street and see the properties that we're moving. That is definitely improving that neighborhood," Altheide added.