Mayor says Mission not target of homeless inquiryWritten by Brandi Barhite | Community Ombudsman | email@example.com
Under fire from a comment that the Cherry Street Mission is causing a homeless problem in Downtown, Carty Finkbeiner is now saying the ministry was never singled out.
Finkbeiner sent a letter on City of Toledo letterhead to Toledo Free Press on Oct. 27 saying that it was the Downtown Toledo Improvement District (DTID) that first raised the concern and asked for help. In particular, the group’s concern was increased pandering and crime in Downtown, the mayor stated.
But Tom Crothers, executive director of DTID, said Oct. 29 the organization had no concern with the homeless; the mayor receives the e-mail updates Crothers sends out monthly, which included a concern about panhandling in general.
“DTID and our Clean & Safe Team do not attribute any criminal activity which may occur in Downtown to homeless individuals or groups,” Crothers said.
The mayor said in his Oct. 27 letter that he brought together the residents of the Downtown or their representatives, Police Chief Mike Navarre, the leader of the Cherry Street Mission and Juanita Greene, a representative from the city’s Board of Community Relations.
Finkbeiner said the March meeting focused upon the allegation that some of Detroit’s homeless population was creating the problems of pandering and crime in Downtown Toledo. He said no one accused the individuals of being tenants of the Cherry Street Mission, he said.
Cherry Street Mission president and CEO Dan Rogers said that is not true.
“If he wasn’t targeting Cherry Street, why was the leader of Cherry Street called to the meeting?” Rogers said Oct 28.
In a statement released Oct. 21, the mayor said, “Toledo Police were reporting increased numbers of homeless persons were coming from Detroit because we offer three meals daily.”
Navarre said the meeting’s topic was homelessness, not the Cherry Street Mission. However, he had heard from officers that the three daily meals offered by the mission attracted homeless to Toledo. During the meeting, Navarre asked Rogers about that and he does not know if the mayor happened to overhear their conversation. Navarre said people often talk at the same time during mayoral meetings. Rogers said he does not believe homeless people are coming from Detroit to Toledo, Navarre said.
Kathy Steingraber, manager of the St. Clair Village and member of the Toledo Warehouse District Association, was also at the March meeting. The Cherry Street Mission was discussed since the CEO was at the meeting. It was her impression that the mayor was not blaming the mission, she said, he was just trying to figure out the problem.
Rogers said Oct. 19 he asked Finkbeiner if he would like him to “dumb down the services” or “reduce them,” and the mayor said, “It’s up to you how you run your business.”
Ken Leslie, founder of 1matters.org., said Oct. 29 the meeting was not negative and the Cherry Street Mission was not targeted, although the topics of Toledo treating its homeless people too nice and homeless people causing crime were discussed.
“I am baffled by all of it,” Leslie said about the controversy surrounding this meeting. “I think everyone single person’s perspective is right.”
At a press conference Oct. 27, Finkbeiner said the numbers did not validate the concerns that were expressed. Leslie said it was determined that one of the crime sprees was caused by a “dude in a suit,” not a homeless person.
“Basically, everything is back to normal, and no, I don’t have any concerns at this point in time that that was the case,” Finkbeiner said.
Rogers said Oct. 28, “I have no gripes with the mayor. I was just reporting the story.”