Thursday, November 17, 2011

Water Board, Crime Reports and Homeless Mecca of SW Virginia

Some interesting stuff here:

Water Authority Board Seats:

The next upcoming vacancy for the Water Authority board will be in June 30, 2012. So this coming summer. The seats consist of 3 city representatives that serve 4 year terms of office. The pay is $250 a month.

To find out more contact Stephanie Moon, the City Clerk at 540-853-2541.

Great Website To Find Crime Data:
The city is logging all crime data and now you can punch in your address and a date range and select the types of crimes you want and then see if your tenants are being bad. You can also use this tool when getting ready to purchase property to get a visual on how much crime is happening in the block. It will give you a visualization on whether it is a good block in the hood or not.

SE Roanoke just may become the armpit of the city:
The Rescue Mission is now planning on adding an additional 200 beds to create a homeless mecca right at the main gateway to SE Roanoke. Here's a couple open letters I wrote to the City Council and SE Neighborhood Association presidents regarding this issue so you are aware of what is going on with Real Estate in SE Roanoke. The Roanoke Times has been supporting the Mission.

Letter One:

Hi Duane,

Well this is new news to me. I thought the Rescue Mission had an order that they could not expand anymore in our area because they have already turned our neighborhood into a homeless mecca.

The Rescue Mission is bussing in people from cities and counties from far away to make it appear that there is some big homeless problem. They are "creating" the homeless problem and the crime that is associated with it.

All businesses are essentially a non profit. We all try to spend all of our excess money at the end of the year so we can minimize the amount of taxes we have to pay. Non Profits are the new tool people use these days to their advantage to build extreme wealth. They way they get rid of money at the end of the year is by building new facilities and paying exorbitant salaries to their key people. For example, the non profit Carillion Hospital got rid of a big chunk of their profit by paying the past head honcho 2.2 million dollars per year.

The more people to care for in the Rescue Mission the more donations and grants from the tax payer they get. I don't have a problem with Joy wanting to hit the jackpot but I disagree with her doing it on the backs of the neighbors who are greatly effected by her wealth building objectives. There is no reason she can't build her wealth by spreading out the homeless facilities across the city.

Not sure if you have watched the movie Skid Row but it shows how Las Angeles made a huge mistake in their planning for the homeless which is now irreversible. They did this by locating all of their homeless services in the same area outside on the edge of the county and it has now become the mecca for the entire west coast. Whenever someone wants to drop out of life and just use drugs and alcohol while living on the street Skid Row is where they go. The vast majority of the people are there by choice and that is a fact that was proven by this movie. It has grown to a level that there are no more beds and they line the streets with tents.

Well, Roanoke City has decided to do this at the most important exit in the city, not on the outskirts like Las Angeles did which was a problem. We will have a problem to a much greater degree than they do. When a CEO comes to Roanoke and the first thing they see at our downtown exit is homeless people all over the place panhandling, the first thing they are going to think is the entire city must be like that. First impressions are very important. So their immediate decision will be to not relocate their company to Roanoke because they don't want to subject their employees to these kind of conditions. Which is understandable.

This is also a major problem for SE Roanoke as it boarders the main entrance to our community.  The entire SE quadrant of Roanoke City will significantly decrease in property value because no respectable person wants to drive through this type of thing on their way to their house.  I would like to see compensation directly from the Rescue Mission for the damage they have already caused to our property values.

This is something I am confident that our Mayor and City Councilmen will stop because I'm sure they are fully aware of the ramifications of locating all homeless services in one area. Skid Row is a prime example of a massive mistake made in doing this and there is no reason for Roanoke City to reinvent the wheel and do it again.

If you haven't seen the documentary Skid Row you can see it here for free:

Best regards,


Letter Two:

To All,

Regarding Property Values In The Area Directly Surrounding The Mission.

I will give you an idea of what the mission has done to the neighborhood directly surrounding it just within the past few years.

I bought my house in 2008 for $4,935. 501 Bullitt ave. Tax Assessed value is 75K. Large Duplex

I bought the house next door in 2010 for 15K.  It sold in 1995 for 90K. 425 Bullitt. Very little rehab on this one to get it in nice shape.

I bought 321 Dale right across from the Womans Shelter. Huge 4,000 square foot triplex. I bought it for 10K.

My friend just bought the house next door to mine on the other side for 14K. 503 Bullitt. It last sold in 2010 for 103K.  He had NO rehab on this. Move in ready.

So we're basically down to this. If any homeowner in the neighborhood wants to move they can not. The high crime rates associated with the Mission has backed them into a corner. They are essentially stuck there because they can sell their house to an investor for 5 to 15K or they stay.  Most have mortgages significantly more than 5 to 15K.  Partially due to the economy and partially due to the Rescue Mission. My neighbors are all way underwater. Due to the downturn in the economy people can find some very nice affordable property in areas where they don't have to deal with the quality of life crimes that we have to deal with due to the Mission.

It is my personal opinion that our hill is one of the nicest locations in SE.  We have an outstanding view of the star and downtown Roanoke City. That's how I sell it to my tenants in hopes that they will overlook the 20 or so people hanging out and drinking on the corner on the way to the house. The beauty of our hill was what attracted people to purchase there and what brought me there as a resident. If it wasn't for the Rescue Mission our property values would be through the roof even in these hard economic times. Walking distance from the city and Elmwood park where all of the festivals are. Right next to 581 so it's a short commute to anywhere. The Roanoke Star is huge looking out of my window.

There is clearly an impact on our neighborhood that is a direct result of the Mission. We can not bear to take another hard hit by more beds being introduced. Otherwise my owner occupied neighbors are going to take a very hard hit and will be financially devastated. All of SE Roanoke property values will be impacted as well because as I said if we flood 200 more into the neighborhood it will really make it the homeless mecca that it is already becoming, no self respecting person will want to drive through these kind of conditions on their way to their house at the main gateway to SE Roanoke.

There is absolutely NO reason why the Mission should not be required via zoning regulations to spread out their facilities and locate beds in another part of the city. I understand that they want to increase the size of their business as that increases their salaries. However this should not be done in a manor where the entire SE quadrant of the city will have dramatically impacted property values. Not good for the residents of SE Roanoke and not good for the property tax values or city future revenues.

I am a landlord. It would be in my best financial interest for the prices in the neighborhood to continue to drop like a rock so I can buy every house on the hill and turn it into a rental. However it is hard to rent property that is in a slum area of town. I consider myself to be a Social Entrepreneur and feel that a city neighborhood is healthy when it is mixed with a diverse group of socioeconomic backgrounds. An area that has been pushed to become 100% rental property combined with over 600 homeless will be a very rough area and will isolate SE Roanoke from the rest of the city. It will also draw in a lower class of tenant that enjoys living in the bad area of town. Believe it or not there are many people like that. It's part of this "thug" mentality that people on the criminal path of life have. I don't like renting to people like that but am forced to do so when a neighborhood is in a stage of extreme depreciation. Environmental factors such as high quality of life crimes in a neighborhood prevent a landlord from finding quality tenants that will subject themselves to the daily drama that is associated with residing in an area such as this.

Lets all work together to come up with a good solution that works for everyone. As a fellow entrepreneur, I understand the desire of the Rescue Mission to grow their business. However Social Entrepreneurship also associates itself with the responsibility of doing this in a manor that will not negatively impact SE Roanoke any more than it already has.  So far I have not talked to a single person in all of South East Roanoke that supports this and I consider myself to be well connected in this part of town. The Roanoke Times supports the Missions decision but they are not representing 1/4th of the city. The slanted opinion of a couple writers should not be considered the general consensus. This is an issue that is real important to SE Roanoke and we hope that we have the cities support on this.

Best Regards,



Liz Dudley said...

Go to Safer City Roanoke on Facebook, look to the left column and click on Crime Report. It will direct you the rest of the way. You will be able to see crime on every street in the Roanoke Valley, as well as the sex offenders. Roanoke City feels that every citizen should know whats going on in their neighborhood.

Liz Dudley said...

Editorial in Roanoke Times Nov 16, 2011:

Rescue Mission closes its eyes to crime around the Mission.

I was shocked to read Joy Sylvester-Johnson's response to the recent crime data report from the Roanoke Police Department ("Rescue Mission hopes to add beds but not add on," Nov. 13 news story).

Not only is she unwilling to accept hard facts, she is living in a bubble. "Because the mission is staffed around the clock every day, and mission staff reports all suspicious activity nearby," the story reports, she calls "'the area around the Rescue Mission one of the safest in Roanoke.'"

There is no evidence her staff is outside patrolling. If it is, why are there always groups of men and women sitting around drinking, littering, even urinating in public? Are we to believe staff members leave the safety of their bubble to go out in the middle of the night to patrol the area?

The day before this article came out, two men were sitting on the grounds next to the Thrift Store smoking pot. They were there when I went into the store and there 30minutes later when I came out. Where was the staff looking for "suspicious activity"? It's simply nonexistent, and to say otherwise is false.

President, Belmont Neighborhood Watch

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