The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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January 15, 2013

Duquesne residents clash over low-income housing proposed for community

DUQUESNE, Mo. — Strong words were exchanged Monday night at the Duquesne City Council meeting over a proposed apartment complex that would offer subsidized rent for low-income residents.

The proposed 48-unit apartment complex would be built on two acres between 13th and 18th streets along Katherine Avenue. The property is owned by Midcontinent Equity Holdings LLC, of Stockton, which has built other low-income housing around the state.

Officials with the company did not return calls for comment.

Duquesne officials in July signed a letter of intent stating that as long as the project complies with local codes, they would support it.

A petition opposing the complex has been circulating since late last year and has 60 signatures so far, said Christina Low, a Duquesne resident who started the petition.

Low said she started the petition primarily because of safety concerns that she believes would result if the apartments are built.

“That’s too many people on that small of land,” Low said after Monday’s meeting. “The only access to it is from Katherine, and the traffic and safety issue is too great. What if a fire broke out there? ... The fire department that services us is in Duenweg, and if they got here in time, they still have to contend with getting to the complex. It’s dangerous.”

Geneia Morgan, of Joplin, is a former Duquesne resident who said she moved to Joplin after she was unable to find affordable housing in Duquesne.

During her comments at the meeting, Morgan said she thought the petition was aimed at low-income residents who would qualify for the apartments. She said the opponents fear that more low-income residents would lead to more crime.

Morgan specifically addressed Councilwoman Lisa Daugherty, who opposes the apartment project.

“I’m not asking you to bring crime into the city,” Morgan said. “But who is to say that we can’t make this city better just because we have less money than other residents?

“This is discriminatory against me. I’m a single parent just trying to make a living. She (Daugherty) has called us ‘those people’ or ‘them people,’ and it’s just pure prejudice against us.”

Daugherty responded: “I have never been on record on saying ‘those people’ when referring to someone in low-income housing. I do support not bringing low-income housing to Duquesne, but I did not bring ahead a petition. That was brought by the citizens of Duquesne.”

Low did not formally present the petition to the council. She said she is still gathering signatures.

The council did not make any decision on the housing issue.

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