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Elizabeth group opposes affordable housing project

The Elizabeth Community Association board voted this week to oppose an 80-bed affordable housing community proposed for the neighborhood by the nonprofit Supportive Housing Communities, formerly known as St. Peter's Homes.

In an announcement sent out today, the association said the vote reflected neighborhood sentiments on the project, which would have been created an apartment community within an existing 50,000-square-foot building near the intersection of Fifth Street and Hawthorne Lane.

The apartment community could house as many as 110 people, many of them disabled, including people recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.

The association said 300 questions about the project were sent to a community Gmail account in recent few weeks.

"Fifty percent of those who registered comments were opposed to the project," the board said in a statement released Tuesday. "Twenty percent were in favor and the remaining 30 percent had questions, reservations or were on the fence."

Still, the association said it wants to "continue the dialogue" and was working to set up more meetings with Supportive Housing Communities, as well as representatives of nearby Elizabeth Traditional Elementary School and area houses of worship.

Pam Jefsen of Supportive Housing Communities said today she was reviewing the decision. Her organization is working with the Affordable Housing Group on the project, located at 333 Hawthorne.

It is unclear just how the vote would impact the project, which has the proper zoning to create apartments within what used to be a nursing home.

The apartments would be open to the homeless and those in danger of homelessness, many of them with disabilities. It would be a sister community to McCreesh Place, an existing apartment community on North Davidson. However, the apartments in Elizabeth would include single women and some families headed by a single parent.

The project is just the latest in a series of efforts to get the most fragile among the community's 6,000 homeless into housing - and to spread that housing throughout the community.

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