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Emotions run high as residents meet to talk about proposed site of new Rescue Mission

By: Gina Benitez
EL PASO, Texas -- The Rescue Mission has plans to put one of its new locations at 900 E. Wyoming.

But now that the shelter has found a spot, many residents in the neighborhood aren't too happy about it.

"It could be women and children today and it could be hardcore drug rehab a year from now," said Brian Kanof, who is against the proposed site.

"I think a lot of the opinions that are being stated here are all based on fear," said Linda Velarde, a resident in favor of the new location.

As we've reported to you, the shelter must relocate as Loop 375 will soon run through its current location.

The mission's director, Blake Barrow, who plans to split up the shelter into different sites, said this space would house homeless people who are elderly and disabled.

"I think it would be an improvement; he's helping the elderly, he's helping the disabled, he's helping those who have no other place to go," Velarde said.

It could also house young men who have aged out of foster care.

"It will create an eyesore due to the fact that you will find people hanging out outside, with their baggage, walking around downtown," said Michael Patino.

"The thing about homeless shelters that some people don't understand is that there's curfews. If you want to stay in a place like that, you have to abide by the rules they're given," Velarde said.

Everyone who spoke at Wednesday's public meeting agreed on one thing: They support the mission's mission. Some would just rather have it somewhere else.

"People come from going to their deluxe suite at the Doubletree and they're going to be exiting in front of the homeless shelter," Kanof said.

"Blake mentioned that they would have about 48 people per year that they would rehab, they're part of solving the very problems that this community is worried about," said Sister Mary Margaret Murphy.

Barrow told KFOX14 the city proposed another site behind City Hall to the shelter and it's something the Rescue Mission is considering.
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