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Haven House: Right idea, wrong place

Posted: February 24, 2014 - 12:01am

Haven House Inc. has proposed opening a transitional living facility in the Tall Timbers neighborhood southeast of Glacier Valley Elementary School. The location, stated in numerous public records, is 3202 Malissa Dr.

The writings and statements from Haven House have characterized the proposed facility in confusingly different ways.

1) They stated that Haven House will be a halfway house, a transitional living facility, a group home and a single-family dwelling.

2) They said the facility will be unsupervised and that it will be supervised by a house manager and co-director.

3) They wrote that the residents will be people that “can (and do) live in Juneau.” Haven House also stated that residents will be imported from cities such as Ketchikan and Anchorage.

Due to these and many other contradicting statements made by Haven House, it is difficult to tell what Haven House actually is.

But, make no mistake, it is easy to tell what Haven House is not — a proper fit for this residential neighborhood.

The proposed site is inappropriate for any business. It is especially inappropriate for a business where the inhabitants, for nearly every need, must find a way to leave the neighborhood. Haven House is intended as a first stop for ex-offenders released from prison. As its business plan states, Haven House residents will go outside the house for “life skills development, job skills training, substance abuse recovery and similar programs.”

Newly introduced into society, these post-corrections residents must have easy access to a multitude of services: employment, job search centers, job interviews, colleges, vocational training and medical services, to name a few. Also important is having nearby grocery stores, transit stops, shopping and other services.

For the proposed residents of Haven House, the house is not so important as its location. The planned site is tucked deep into a quiet neighborhood with nothing more than single-family homes. The planned site is far from the required facilities and institutions that are desperately needed for the success of the Haven House residents.

The nearest bus stop leading to downtown and the valley requires folks to walk for nearly 1 mile, right past Glacier Valley Elementary School. These streets here do not contain a single streetlight. There are no sidewalks. After a winter storm, I have seen these small streets go for three days before being plowed. This site is a poor choice that forces folks to walk out of the neighborhood on dark, snow-covered surface streets for nearly every need.

The presence of felons at Haven House is not central to the neighbors’ concerns, but it is still unnerving to many. In Alaska and the United States, nearly everyone has been touched by crime, my family included. Many in Juneau have had encounters with the criminal justice system, served time themselves, or had a family member or loved one who has.

Everyone sustains some hope that many of these people can somehow gain a footing and resume living in society. However, as a practical matter, it is well known that Alaska has the highest recidivism rate in the nation. Even prison volunteers with decades of experience honestly admit seeing offenders come back to prison time and time again, not able to escape the revolving door.

It is clearly inappropriate to house these folks in a residential neighborhood during the brief period before, admittedly, some of them will re-offend despite everyone’s best efforts.

This is a neighborhood where children often ride their bikes in the street, right in front of the intended halfway house. Three doors down, there is a day care. Across the street, there is a child’s swingset in plain view, popular with the local boys and girls. More than 20 children live within a quarter mile.

Clearly, the current site is the wrong choice for everyone involved — for the planned residents of Haven House, and for the families of this neighborhood.

• Dan Hubert is a Juneau resident and lives near the proposed location of Haven House.

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Lawrence Love
Lawrence Love 02/24/14 - 08:11 am
Negative Nellie

So here we have an individual, with supporters having difficulty having folks attempt to move into society after serving their so called time in prison.
#1---There is a bus stop out of the way of the school down the street on Tongass Blvd,(just go left to Nancy street ) down to the highway and make a right. Yea real hard!!

All the other garbage spit out is just that, I live in this area keep an eye out and I can tell you this location(controversial as it may be) is pretty much out of site out of mind.
I know of a couple of folks who live in the area and it doesn't seem to bother them.
So the question lies in why all the save the children banter?
Yes there is a few issues that have been brought up with the exception of proof or conviction or violations there of maybe someone should consider pooling their funds and get them into a location that is acceptable to the negative nellies and move on.
Other than that Welcome to the neighborhood, watch your behavior and don't hide in the house be active.

Paul Duran
Paul Duran 02/25/14 - 10:17 pm
Great article

I agree with this article.

. Shannara
. Shannara 02/24/14 - 10:15 am
This article is spot on ...

This article is spot on ... except for one thing. The nearest city bus stop is literally two blocks away.

katrina meadows
katrina meadows 02/24/14 - 11:27 am
Wonderful Idea!

It would be great if a Haven House could be placed next to anyone's home or school. Each of our home's really should be safe haven's for those needing it!

Paul Duran
Paul Duran 02/25/14 - 08:28 am
You want felons next to schools and homes!

It's good to help anyone. It's too extreme to place felons next to homes and schools. Some felons are not allowed on school grounds for very good reasons. Some of us have 1 felon neighbor to one house never 9 or 5 felon neighbors in one house. People who want to help felons should volunteer themselves to help, but not expect everyone to do the same. To each his own.

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