A pair of Oklahoma City lawmakers is calling on the Oklahoma Department of Human Services to halt plans to create a group home for five unwed teen mothers and their children in a Southside neighborhood.
Senator Debbe Leftwich and Representative Al Lindley met with residents of the area Tuesday night and vowed to do everything they can to keep DHS from going forward with the proposed group home at 1329 S.W. 71st Circle.
“These are hard-working families who have played by the rules and the government is sneaking in their back door. They’re angry that there was no notification and believe DHS is skirting the law because these homes are zoned for single family dwellings. DHS needs to re-evaluate its proposal and locate this group
home somewhere else,” Leftwich said.
At a Neighborhood Association meeting Wednesday, Leftwich and Lindley joined area homeowners in listening to an explanation of the plan from eight DHS representatives. Homeowners recognize DHS’s need for space, but they are angry and said point blank that they don’t want DHS and its group home in their neighborhood.
The Senator has expressed her concerns to DHS Director Howard Hendrick.
The Democratic lawmakers are questioning not only the judgment of DHS officials about where they want to locate the group home, but also about how much is being spent for the property and renovations – not to mention continuing upkeep and staff.
DHS has already purchased the property for $171,000 and expects to spend a minimum of $30,000 or more for renovations.
“It’s beyond me why DHS thought they would not get objections from neighbors, especially on the heels of highly publicized eminent domain cases in other states. It may not be exactly the same thing, but it certainly feels the same to these folks. It’s big government coming in without any regard or consideration to the homeowners,” Leftwich said.
Local realtors have advised some of the area homeowners that the group home could lower their property values by as much as 40 percent.
“I wonder if DHS is going to make up the difference for these families since they seem to have all this extra cash around.” Leftwich asked.
Lindley joined Leftwich in calling on DHS to halt its plans.
“DHS officials saw first hand at Tuesday night’s meeting just how upset the homeowners are. They should back off of this project and do the right thing by these taxpayers,” Lindley said.