April 13, 1995 in Idaho

Migrant Housing Unpopular Proposed Low-Income Units Near School Draws Protests

Associated Press

An angry crowd has objected vocally to the Idaho Migrant Council’s proposed low-income apartment complex near a Blackfoot elementary school.

But the project already is on its way toward construction.

About 400 residents, who signed a petition against the complex, Tuesday attended a Blackfoot Planning and Zoning Commission meeting. The council has bought four acres for a $1.2 million, 24-unit complex that could house up to 200 tenants.

The project is a done deal and a public hearing is not required because the land was platted for a subdivision in 1934, city attorney Reid Larson said.

Melvin Davis said he visited Migrant Council complexes elsewhere and found they had deteriorated. He said he feared school crowding would worsen, while traffic and crime would increase.

He also objected to tenants getting free or reduced rent, and the property being tax-exempt because the council is a non-profit organization.

The complex will be built with Farmers Home Administration and Idaho Housing Council funds. Rent will be subsidized if tenants cannot pay.

Assistant School Superintendent Vaughn Hugie said the complex should not be located so close to Stalker Elementary.

Retired farmer Claude Johnson replied Bingham County is largely agricultural and dependent on migrant workers. He said they should be treated with respect and live in decent housing.

Tim Lopez, the Idaho Migrant Council’s housing director in Caldwell, said that projects in Twin Falls, American Falls and Heyburn have been successful. He said the project will give low-income families who already live in the area a second chance.

Lopez said a survey reveals that the area needs 266 family units. Of those, 140 are needed for families earning $10,000 a year or less. He was shouted down each time he tried to respond to questions.

© Copyright 1995 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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