Apartment complex for homeless is opposed near Georgia coast

Some residents of downtown Brunswick are opposed to converting an old hospital building into an apartment complex for chronically homeless.

More than 100 people showed up at a recent meeting to discuss the proposed plan.

A nonprofit organization, Hand in Hand of Glynn Inc., plans to purchase the old Brunswick Hospital and convert it into an apartment complex, The Brunswick News reported.

One of group's members explained the project to a sometimes hostile audience, the newspaper reported.

"We have longevity here," said Anne Stembler of St. Simons Island, who is one of the Hand in Hand members. "We all want what is best for the area."

Many in the audience laughed mockingly at her comment, the newspaper reported.

Supporters of the project looked at multiple locations for a homeless complex.

"We looked all over," Stembler said. "None of those came to fruition. We were in a quandary."

Then they learned that the old hospital building was for sale, she said. The option seemed attractive, as it already had 24 efficiency apartments with electricity metered by unit, sprinklers and a security system in place. It also had a recent inspection by the fire department, and it was zoned correctly.

But some in the audience at the recent community meeting voiced concerns about neighborhood property values if the building becomes a home for the homeless, the newspaper reported.

A large homeless population lives in a 10-block radius in downtown Brunswick, said Jeffrey Clark, street outreach director for Safe Harbor.

"They can't afford to live here because the cost of living has gone up," Clark said. "We're talking about individuals who at some point in life had some hardships. They just need a leg up."


Information from: The News, http://www.thebrunswicknews.com