CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Skeptical Mound View residents gave a cold, dismissive reception last night to the Mission of Hope and its plan to move its free lunch and other programs to a church in the neighborhood.
Martin Dwyer, a pastor and the mission’s executive director, took on a bevy of questions from neighbors while trying to make the case that he has fixed bad behavior that has tainted the mission at its location in the 1500 block of First Avenue SE.
Dwyer handed out data from police calls in the block to show that the 721 police calls in the block in the first six months of 2014 are spread throughout the block and are not concentrated at the mission.
Dwyer said the church will allow the mission feed the about 150 people who need a free lunch Monday through Saturday at one time. The current location can only seat half that number and results in people hanging out outside.
Dwyer said the mission, which is supported by about 300 different churches in Eastern Iowa, is helping people change their lives every day. The clientele changes because people no longer need the mission’s help, he said.
City Council member Scott Olson and a commercial Realtor told the gathering of about 100 people that the mission wouldn’t hurt property values if it is operated well. He said the Salvation Army and Green Square Meals feed the poor with no complaints.
Dwyer said he will meet with the Mission of Hope’s board of directors this afternoon to discuss if the mission will move ahead to the purchase the church in Mound View.
Last week, Dwyer said the mission would not proceed if neighbors didn’t want it there.
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