The combined neighborhoods of Overbrook, Bayou Oaks and Garden Villas, along with other concerned Southeast Houston communities are holding a press conference on Thursday, February 14th at 3:00pm, at the corner of Reed Rd and Mt. Carmel St., to let members of the news media know about the growing issue with the placement of a “half way house” for convicted felons on the Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish grounds.
Opposition to the placement of what has been termed a “transitional living facility” has residents questioning the leadership capabilities of Mayor Annise Parker and her administration. The Mayor, who has run her past campaigns on protecting and promoting the quality of life in Houston’s neighborhoods, has permitted and encouraged the plans of the Archdiocese to move this program from North Houston to the church campus. The Mayor and her Legal Department have willingly assisted this plan, even allowing the Program Director to change her client criteria, as her previous clients, those under parole, early release and probation, would have subjected Angela House program to City ordinance that prohibit the facility’s placement within 750 feet of a school, church, library, park, licensed day care or nursing home. If Angela House is permitted to occupy the former Rectory building at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, they would have a dwelling within 250 feet of two schools, an elementary and a high school AND within 1.7 miles of another 6 schools in the area. Additionally, the building would be less than 150 feet from the church, 75 feet from Stewart Park, less a half mile from Mancuso Library.
With all these potential conflicts, area residents are left wondering how this could happen, and more importantly why the Parker administration would let it happen. They do know that the plans were developed in secrecy by the Archdiocese, and parishioners were not told by church leaders but by the area civic clubs who discovered the information. The Archdiocese hierarchy has consistently pressured parishioners to accept Angela House, although the Program Director and the Archdiocese have never submitted any written documents to either the City or the neighborhoods about the exact goals, participants, rules of conduct or terms and conditions of those living in the Angela House facility. Only verbal “promises” have been made by the Program Director, and those have been changed several times to suit the audience or occasion at hand.
While area residents do not oppose the proposed goals of Angela House, in providing assistance to female ex-convicts, they are strongly opposed to its location. As Overbrook Civic Club’s President Ron McLeland says, “with a 1 in 4 failure rate as stated on their website, we have real concerns about what that means for the neighborhood, the school children who play literally next door and for our elderly who attend events throughout the week at church”. As another neighbor pointed out “that church members who have contact with children in a church setting are subject to the Virtus Program that the Archdiocese has mandated and we are happy to do that to protect our children, but Angela House clients would be unable to pass the Vertis Program, so why would this be allowed by the Archdiocese?” Additionally, as Garden Villas Community Association President Tom Brents says, “I am interested in what happened to the promised Threat Assessment report from HISD and HPD, why was it put of indefinite HOLD? Was there some sort of political pressure that we don’t know about?” This threat assessment had been requested by concerned parents of school children who have to walk past this building every day on their way to elementary school.
The Southeast neighborhoods have over 2250 homes facing the importation of ex-convicts for felony theft and drug offenses, and they are adamant that this is wrong! We don’t deserve to place the welfare of ex-convicts above that of school children.
FOR THE SAKE OF OUR CHILDREN – FOR THE SAKE OF OUR NEIGHBORHOODS – MOVE ANGELA HOUSE!!!!!
What is Angela House? Angela House is a halfway house for women who have been previously incarcerated, many of them with felonies. Its program is focused on rehabilitatingthem to become better citizens in the community.
The MOVE ANGELA HOUSE PAC (Political Action Committee) is not against Angela House or its mission. It is against its proposed location: In the rectory of The Our Lady of Mount CarmelCatholic Church.
The MOVE ANGELA HOUSE is not Anti-Catholic, Anti-Christian,Anti-Religious, nor ANTI-Mount Carmel. It is pro-safety, driven to protect the citizens of the community, especially the children. It is here to uphold and encourage the standards of our Neighborhood and seek a better resolution to where these women can be helped in making their transition back into society.
There are two main reasons why we want to Move Angela House NOW.
Angela House should not be near schools. Being at the Mount Carmel rectory puts Angela House within feet of the Mount Carmel Elementary School, and the Cristo Del Rey High School. Within a few blocks is Garden VillasElementary school. This institution alone serves nearly 900 children. There are provisions in our city that establish that Halfway Houses are not allowed near schools. The Steering Committee Members of the MOVE ANGELA HOUSE PAC continue to work with local City officials to stop Angela House, but unfortunately recent efforts have simply not been enough. Because of this lack of progress, the citizens of Southeast Houston, specifically those in and near the location of the proposed site, have now decided to formalize its efforts into the MOVE ANGELA HOUSE PAC.
The second reason why we want the program moved is that we don’t believe the plan to manage AngelaHouse is adequate. According to the Executive Director, Sister Maureen O’Connell, the plan is to have a fulltime security guard on the premises, with a fenced wire surrounding the facility. However, the PAC doesnot believe this will be financially upheld by the Diocese. Additionally, it is the PAC’s understanding that the 15 women that will live on the premises will be allowed “visitors”, thus raising the question “Who is going to be addressing the traffic to and from the rectory”?
The PAC continues to grow, but it needs your support. It is a diverse group of citizens who wantto make a better life for themselves and their families. The steering committee is made up of a diverse group of people. The PAC welcomes persons of all religions and backgrounds, including those Catholic parishioners of Mount Carmel who don’t believe this is right for their Church. Again, this is simply aneffort to MOVE ANGELA HOUSE. Sign up now and become part of a growing effort to MOVE ANGELA HOUSE.