WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) — The former rectory of what was Warren’s St. Pius Church is where the Warren Family Mission plans to open a facility for homeless mothers and their children. But the Mission needs a zone change and originally, opposition by neighbors was widespread. But after a meeting Wednesday evening, even though no decision was made, some minds were changed.
About 50 people attended the Warren Zoning Board of Appeals meeting on whether the zoning of the former St. Pius property on Moncrest Street should be changed to allow the Warren Family Mission to open a transitional home for mothers and their children.
“The Warren Family Mission has immensely helped me get back on my feet. I was homeless, jobless, and barely sober when they took me in,” said Renee Perrault.
Half the room was mostly women who either work at the Mission or have been helped by the Mission and support the idea of a transitional home. like Brianne Gayhart who runs the Mission’s Hannah House — a drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Vienna.
“I was completely hopeless and lost and with the love and acceptance that I received from the Warren Family Mission I was able to turn my life around,” said Gayhart.
Mission officials said no more than 12 women and children will live at the home at one time. The women will be drug tested and background checked and no additional structures will be built on the property.
“We’re talking about changing lives. We’re talking about women getting back on their feet. Stable housing. A car,” said executive director Caitlin White.
Still, not all the neighbors around the property agreed with the plan.
“I wouldn’t want it in my neighborhood. That’s all I’m saying, and it’s nothing against any of you. It’s just the way I feel,” said resident Elizabeth Lewis.
“And very strict rules and monitoring by qualified staff,” said
Darlene Urso was originally opposed but then after hearing the details and realizing a lot worse things could go into the buildings, she announced she now supports the project.
Councilman at large Gary Steinbeck came to the meeting opposed but says he, too, is now leaning toward support.
Resident Eric Shirey said if the Warren Family Mission signs a contract with certain provisions: “I could change my vote to a yea from a no.”
Warren’s Zoning Board of Appeals did not make a decision on the zone change but the plan is to decide at the board’s next meeting on Sept. 15 at 3 p.m.