Women’s Facility Moving to Church Property
A group of neighborhood leaders in southeast Houston are banding together against a halfway house for women that's set to move to a nearby church building. Angela House, a so-called "transitional living facility" for women who were convicted of theft and drug crimes and finished their prison sentences, plans to move from its current location in North Houston to the former Rectory building on the grounds of Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish. "We don't really object to any program like that, but we object to the location...right next to a school," says Tom Brents, who is one of the residents leading the opposition group. They say the proposed location of the halfway house is a potential threat to more than 2,200 homes in the Overbrook, Bayou Oaks and Garden Villas neighborhoods.
Brents tells KTRH's Matt Patrick the location is not only near a church and multiple schools, but also a library and a park. "Laws were passed to keep things like this from being next to schools, next to churches, next to parks," he says. Brents and the neighborhood groups have called on the local Archdiocese and Mayor Annise Parker to find another location for Angela House, but say they've gotten no response so far. He says the fact that these are women doesn't change the fact that they're dangerous. "By (Angela House's) own records, they say that 1 in 4 will go right back to crime and what they were doing before," he says. Ron Mcleland is the president of the Overbrook Civic Club. He joined Brents for the interview with Matt Patrick, and explained why the issue goes beyond the ex-cons. "One-third of your problem is the ladies, two-thirds of your problem are the people that they attract to this facility."
Angela House has previously told KTRH that their facility is completely safe and no outside visitors or hangers-on are allowed. And since the church owns the land, there may be no legal recourse for the city or residents to dictate what they do with it. But for now, Brents and McCleland are hoping city and church leaders will at least hear their complaints. In an e-mail sent to media and supporters this week, Brents finished with this: "FOR THE SAKE OF OUR CHILDREN - FOR THE SAKE OF OUR NEIGHBORHOODS - MOVE ANGELA HOUSE!!!!!"
Listen to Matt Patrick's full interview with Tom Brents and Ron McCleland here.