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Controversial Homeless Apartment Moves Forward - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Controversial Homeless Apartment Moves Forward

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A proposed apartment building that would give homeless people a roof over their heads has plans to move forward without Moorhead City Council approval. The council vote unanimously opposed the complex, which is backed by Churches United, and planned to be built on their land.

"I was homeless. It was not easy. I was homeless for six years and it sucked," says Fargo's John Oevering, who came to share lunch and a helping hand at Churches United.

Getting back on his feet with an apartment of his own, he knows the difference it makes to have somewhere to call home.

"It's not survival. It's not like caveman feeling--sleeping under bridges or anything like that--trying to figure out what the warmest place is to live," he says.

The Moorhead city council's opposition isn't stopping Churches United from helping others feel the same relief. Their land is zoned for mixed use and they should hear back on state grant money in October. The proposed apartment is designed with individual and family apartments.

"We intend to just proceed and we're sorry that the city council doesn't want to support it. They may regret it down the way," says Churches United Executive Director Jane Alexander.

Alexander says it is the application that will decide whether or not they get the $6 million dollar state grant--not the opinions surrounding the proposed apartment complex. Some are raising concerns about increased shoplifting or crime. Others about the need for it, period.

We tried reaching out to council members in opposition. Jim Haney had this to say in last night's meeting:"To be honest with you, I question whether there's a need for it anyplace."

Churches United says it is incredibly difficult for the homeless to find affordable housing in the Fargo-Moorhead area, putting the shelter at maximum capacity nearly every night. They say this apartment building is helping them be the landlord the homeless can't find here.

"We need more housing for the homeless. We can't have them on the streets because of diseases and everything. Everyone needs to be in their own place to call home," says Oevering.

Another note out of last night's meeting that's causing a lot of people to talk today: a Fargo police officer gave her opinion saying she thinks shoplifting and theft will go up if the complex is built. Churches United says they will do everything they can do address community concerns, including planning around-the-clock staffing.

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