- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 16, 2002

Halfway houses and community-based treatment facilities are less likely than a public library to attract crime to a neighborhood, according to a study by the Justice Policy Institute, a D.C.-based nonprofit organization.
The study concludes that "you're just as likely to make a killing selling your home if it is right next to a halfway house as you are if your house is in another place in the community," says institute Associate Director Jason Ziedenberg.
It's a conclusion that defies common sense, say D.C. officials and neighborhood activists on Capitol Hill, who have fought to halt the construction of the Girls and Boys Town complex of halfway houses for troubled youths at 14th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue SE.
But according to the Justice Policy Institute, crime dropped 8 percent around the Our Place halfway house, at 12th and Pennsylvania Avenue SE, and 23 percent around the Hope Village halfway house, in the 2800 block of Langston Place SE, between 1997 and 2001.
During the same period, crime increased 4 percent around the Capitol Hill Day School, an exclusive private school in the 200 block of South Carolina Avenue SE.
D.C. zoning officials last week bowed to neighborhood resistance by stripping Girls and Boys Town of permits to build the new complex of four homes for juveniles, leaving the charity with a new $3 million facility it won't be allowed to use.
Nearly a year ago, zoning officials approved the Nebraska-based charity's construction of the complex that would house 24 troubled youths.
Residents, represented by Southeast Citizens for Smart Development (SCSD), appealed to the D.C. Board of Zoning Adjustments to revoke building permits, saying the permits violate a law barring community-based residential facilities from being built within 500 feet of existing ones.
In March, several neighbors said the push to stop Girls and Boys Town's construction was centeredaround a desire to make the property value go up in parts of Capitol Hill that have not been gentrified.
"What they want to do here is just not the highest and best use of the land," said Bobbi Krengel, a real estate agent who also lives in the neighborhood.
But the Justice and Police Institute's study indicates that housing values in zip codes across the city where halfway houses are located actually increased for single-family homes between 1997 and 2002.
In some neighborhoods, the value of homes directly across from and adjacent to the halfway houses had greater growth than those in the zip code as a whole.
The Board of Zoning Adjustment's ruling requires Girls and Boys Town to apply for a "special exception" building permit with a public comment period and more zoning hearings if the charity wants to go forward with its homes for troubled youth on Capitol Hill.
Representatives of Girls and Boys Town founded 85 years ago by a Roman Catholic priest to provide homes for orphaned children have repeatedly said neighborhood resistance to the homes is little more than "a case of [not in my back yard (NIMBY)] gone too far."
The Justice and Policy Institute's study also shows that in Northwest more serious crimes were reported between 1996 and 2001 around the Fresh Fields supermarket on P Street and the Martin Luther King Jr. Library on H Street NW than there were around four community based facilities in that quadrant of the city.
Further details of the study are available on the Internet at www.cjcj.org.

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