Neighbors share frustration over N. Spokane halfway house

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by MIKE GONZALEZ & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on April 24, 2014 at 8:02 AM

Updated Thursday, Apr 24 at 10:47 AM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- Dozens of people packed the Shadle Park gazebo Wednesday night in protest of a halfway house filled with felons that is now in their neighborhood.    

The home is near N. Drumheller Street and W. Decatur Avenue. That is within a mile radius of three elementary schools, including Westview Elementary, which is only two blocks away.

WATCH: Neighborhood worried about new halfway house nearby   

“Why on earth would you put them two blocks from a school?” asked one woman Wednesday night.

Residents said they felt blindsided that six felons showed up in their North Spokane neighborhood without any warning nearly two weeks ago.

“If [someone] wanted to sell, people would be hesitant to buy if they knew that place was there,” said Earl Whinther, whose grandchildren live across from the halfway house.

“It’s our neighborhood, let’s not give it up,” said another neighbor.

Steven Sivertsen works for the company called Open Gate that runs the halfway house. He admits he, himself, would have reservations living there.

I'll be honest…in a scope of five houses, if one of them were next to a bunch of guys just getting out of prison, that would probably be [crossed] off my list and I would choose another house,” said Sivertsen. “So I’m not going to say, ‘oh I would even live next to them.”
   
But Sivertsen said the men are all looking for a new shot at life and need to be given a chance.
   
“The premise of our program is to bridge the gap of the high supervision of prison to the lack of supervision on the street,” Sivertsen said.

Earl Whinther said he likes the idea of helping the felons, just not in his grandkids’ neighborhood.

“We need to find some other way. Go out to Geiger [and] set up some housing for them because it hurts too many neighborhoods,” said Whinther.

City officials said they planned to investigate whether the house is following code, but more than likely there may be nothing that can be done to move the felons out of the neighborhood.

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