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Homeless shelter plans for neighborhood suffer set back

Posted at 9:46 PM, Oct 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-16 23:37:29-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Plans to turn the old Lamar Elementary School building into a homeless shelter suffered a set back Wednesday night when the Corpus Christi Planning commission unanimously voted against crucial rezoning.

The school, that's been closed since 2010, needed to be rezoned in order to be converted into a shelter to replace Good Samaritan's current facility at Alameda and Kinney Streets.

"The facility that we have right now is almost a hundred years old," Good Sam Executive Director Carole Murphrey said. "Everything is falling apart. We're holding it together with bailing wire right now."

The Ed Rachal Foundation offered to pay for the school's renovation and a representative of the charity spoke on behalf of rezoning at tonight's meeting. But he was outnumbered by around a dozen of the school's neighbors who urged the commission to vote against rezoning.

"This is not the place for them," one resident said.

"This is pretty upsetting," said another.

After more than an hour of public comment and a question-and-answer period, a motion was made by a commissioner to oppose the request to rezone the property. Then, one-by-one, the commissioners all voted for opposition.

It's disappointing for Murphrey, who thinks the shelter would have been a win-win. She believes the neighborhood would actually benefit from it.

"I believe we're going to make the place cleaner," Murphrey said. "If they have concerns they can come check us out (at the current shelter). Even drive by here tonight or any night. There's no loitering around. There's no one out here skunk drunk."

Tonight's vote means that the Planning Commission unanimously recommends that the city council reject rezoning Lamar Elementary. The city council will have the final say on a date that hasn't been set yet.

Neighbors we're quick to propose some alternative locations.

"Let's build this location at Sunrise Mall," one man said. "You'll see how many attorneys will be in this building."

"You wouldn't put a shelter -- a place with drug addicts -- on the Southside," another man said.