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Neighbors Come Together to Stop Rental Plan

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa A plan to bring more affordable housing to people in need, is creating big concerns to a group of neighbors.

Property owner Mark Bolton and his property manager Denise Beavers were working to rezone the multi-room house at the corner of 16th Street SE and Bever Avenue. For $350, including utilities, people could rent a single room and have a place to stay for cheap. The two wanted to make it a boarding house of sorts, renting rooms to several people.

The idea was to provide affordable housing for those between jobs and others trying to make it on their own, but now there's trouble.

Those living nearby gave a resounding "no" to the plan.

"The neighborhood message was spoken and it was received, not well received, but it was received," said Terry Bilsland, President of the Wellington Heights Neighborhood Association.

People living around the house said the plan was bringing undesired people to area. Neighbors came together Tuesday night to speak out and bring it to a halt.

One of the biggest concerns was noted by many residents. In recent months, two registered sex offenders have lived in the rented rooms.

"They should have at least contacted the neighbors if they were going to be renting the property to sex offenders," said Wellington Heights Neighbor Julia Phelps.

Beavers said all of the people living there were referrals from social workers and other assistance programs.

After years of fighting off a bad reputation and reducing crime, the Wellington Heights neighbors are not letting down their guard now.

"We worked very hard to make this neighborhood better, and we're not going to back up," Bilsland said.

"We are looking for more of an investment into the neighborhood, not someone who is going to profit off of other people's plight," said Wellington Heights Neighbor Clint Wood.

Beavers said she was caught off guard by the response, but she is glad to know how they feel. By the end of the heated meeting, the decision was made not to make the home a boarding home with rooms for rent.

"The neighborhood association's goal is to reduce density so they are not in favor of allow us to do this type of arranged housing, so we'll be making other plans for the property," Beavers said.

Beavers said the change in plans means fewer affordable housing options for people in need, but they didn't want to be at war with neighbors. The two still have other properties that will continue to provide the rental rooms.

Those living in Wellington Heights said they'd be watching to make sure more people don't move in to the house on the corner.

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