WINFIELD, Kansas – It was a proposal that riled up hundreds of residents in this Cowley County city, but the plan to operate a halfway house in a residential neighborhood has been rejected unanimously by Winfield’s city commission.
The Working Men of Christ ministry was seeking a zoning change and permit to operate what they call the “House of Jeremiah,” a transition home for the homeless, reformed convicts, and others who needed a place to stay to get their lives back in order.
But the 3-0 vote to reject the plan sent a message that a residential neighborhood was the wrong place to put the facility.
Residents and the city’s planning commission did not feel that the home on the 1200 block of E. 7th Avenue was the right location for the home, Patrick Steward, community development director for Winfield, said.
Neighbors took the unusual step of filing a protest petition with the city, meaning to approve the plan, the commission would have had to do so unanimously.
The ministry, which predominantly works in Kansas correctional facilities, was disappointed with the result of the vote. But they say the attention they got from this case encouraged someone in Wichita to donate their home to the ministry’s cause. That facility opened this month, according to Royce Montgomery, the ministry’s vice-president.
“If they need a place to stay, we just want to help them get started, and when they get out of prison, they usually have lots of fines, court costs, they need a job, driver’s license, a car and all that stuff,” he said. “We just want to help them get started.”