How can someone who doesn’t live near a homeless shelter understand the effects it could have on the neighborhood? Perhaps they could ask people who live or have lived near the Genesis House.

I was a neighbor of the Genesis House for about four years. My experience is almost difficult to communicate, because I could barely tell the shelter was there, and I was never aware if and when I crossed paths with any of its occupants. Consequently, they were great neighbors.

There wasn’t an increase in illegal activity in my neighborhood, either. Other current neighbors of the Genesis House also expressed the same experience, all positive. Above all, character of the neighborhood was, and still is, well intact.

Many people fear the unknown, and their concerns are real to them. However, those concerns are often subjective and unfounded. It seems that a number of the people opposing the shelter believe it’ll be like an urban walk-in shelter with people lined up each night to see if there’s a bed available. This won’t be the case.

They’ll be supervised, and will mostly mind their own business, while working to get their lives back on track. Hopefully, those who currently oppose the shelter will realize how great a neighbor St. John’s Church and the Genesis House are.

In response to Greg Clark’s letter to the editor (“Do Zoning Laws Even Matter in Olean?”), yes, they do, and, St. John’s and the Genesis House are complying with the zoning laws. Further, they have met ALL four criteria for the use variance and should be granted approval.

What isn’t in compliance with zoning law is the number of signs property owners have placed in their yards to oppose the shelter. Only one sign is allowed on each property frontage, per Zoning Law Sec. 11.1.3.

Kelly Sweet, Olean

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