PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – More and more people are speaking out against a plan to convert an old church into a halfway house.
Tempers flared at a rally Wednesday night in Clairton.
“Let’s keep it nice, hey, we are here to protect our neighborhood and everyone has different opinions,” Mayor Richard Lattanzi said.
Mayor Lattanzi encouraged the crowd to stay calm, but many were fired up over a controversial plan to convert the closed St. Paulinus Roman Catholic Church into a halfway house.
“Not everyone is against it, but the majority of people in this neighborhood are against it because it’s in a residential neighborhood,” Mayor Lattanzi said.
A former parole officer wants to purchase the property and use the rectory as a center for up to 15 non-violent inmates.
“This will downgrade, downgrade the value on the homes and also there’s a playground three houses away from this facility,” one man said.
“I have no problem with halfway houses. I just want to make sure that it’s done properly and all of our ordinances are followed,” Councilwoman Lee Lasich said.
While the biggest issue among the opposition is location, some people including Councilwoman Denise Johnson say location shouldn’t matter.
She says giving inmates second chances should be the priority.
“I took this office to be a voice for all people, not just certain people and I believe it is going to help someone,” Johnson said.
The mayor says the neighborhood is zoned for residential use only.
It’s up to the Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese to give the sale the green light.