A proposed group home for troubled kids is causing controversy in one Milwaukee neighborhood.
The building at the corner of 37th and Wright might soon house kids who are taken from their homes by Child Protective Services or are transitioning out of juvenile detention. Many neighbors say it’s not the right place for it.
“This particular area of Metcalfe Park has consistently been riddled with violence,” said Danell Cross, the leader of the Metcalfe Community Bridges group, which has been working hard to be heard.
The neighborhood is where Sierra Guyton, 10, was shot and killed four years ago. The community, with the help of Metcalfe Community Bridges, has been on an uphill journey toward healing. They say this is not the time to bring vulnerable children and teens to an area already struggling with crime and unemployment.
“They could be troubled, have ties to violence, and also, they could be exposed to new violence,” Cross said. “We just don't believe it's a safe environment for them, and it could really negatively impact the work that we’re doing to bring about safety in this area.”
Members of Metcalfe Community Bridges went door-to-door collecting nearly 70 signatures against the proposal. They also shared disapproval with their Alderman Russell Stamper at a town hall meeting. Stamper approves the proposal.
“He should not take it upon himself to make the decisions for the community,” Danell Cross said. “It’s his job to listen to residents.”
“These are resident and homeowners saying no – what, do homeowners not count?” said Annie Travis.
The building in question, across from Mercy Memorial Church, has sat empty for five years. It used to offer transitional housing for troubled men, which residents say was a problem.
“They would bother and yell at women on the street, play music loud, and pass things through the fence to people on the outside,” Travis said. “There were bad things going on. We don’t need or want anything like that.”
Instead, they’re challenging city leaders and developers to help bring something positive to their part of town.
Stamper and the woman proposing the youth home declined on-camera interviews. Stamper released a statement, which reads in part: “I was elected to care about the wellbeing of the entire district… that includes children who deserve a loving environment to ensure their success.”
Milwaukee’s Board of Zoning Appeals is expected to make a decision on this Thursday afternoon.