Not in my backyard! District 8 residents protest the Rescue Mission move

The Rescue Mission plans on moving from its current location in the Paisano-Asarco area, to 900 Wyoming Avenue.

Niland Mission Mtg

EL PASO, Texas - It's an unwelcome move. The Rescue Mission plans on moving from its current location in the Paisano-Asarco area, to 900 Wyoming Avenue. That's in Rep. Courtney Niland's District 8, which is made up of parts of west El Paso, downtown and south El Paso.

Wednesday night Niland hosted a tense and packed meeting with area residents to get feedback.

Deification and urine in streets, drug and alcohol abuse, fights and stabbings, all fears District 8 residents have about bringing the Rescue Mission to their neighborhood.

Others though said the Mission will clean up the streets.

"I'm very fortunate to have a couple very organized, very powerful neighborhood associations," said Rep. Cortney Niland. "And they will not stand for something if they don't want it."

The fear is the Rescue Mission is zoned in such a way, it doesn't have to go before City Council for approval. Therefore Niland can't ensure its just for women and children or hospice care. She cant ensure it doesn't grow from 108 beds to more. And the concern is at risk, drug addicted people will swarm this quaint, clean downtown neighborhood, its schools and day cares.

"My concern is I don't want people on drugs, I don't want sexual predators, I don't want criminals in my neighborhood," said former candidate for County Judge Aliana Apodoca.

"Just within the last couple of years, we opened the La Fey clinic in that neighborhood," said one resident, "it's right across the street from my house. In fact if the Rescue Mission is built, my house will be between the free clinic and the Rescue Mission.

Niland wants residents to know what they're getting into and the hit downtown revitalization might take.

"The bicycle patrol is constantly giving tickets to homeless people drinking in public, urinating, I have to call the police every other time to come where they're exposing themselves in front of children," said one resident.

Others, including Mission Director Blake Barrow, say the Mission will clean up the streets while offering a place for people to get off drugs, get off the streets, and have a real chance at life.

"We should be compassionate about it," said another resident.

"You look at people and say, he's this he's that, he's the other, and what you don't know, god be my witness, one day, you may be in the same place of these other people that you're putting down," yelled another resident.

Barrow said this not the site of the emergency center, but for longer term housing, for people in hospice or women or children. Niland says with the support of residents behind her, she will continue to work with the Mission to find another location they both can agree on.

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