When residents in a neighborhood on Butte’s westside learned plans were in place to open a halfway house for recovering addicts in his West Platinum Street home, many were outraged.
“It’s going to bring crime, it’s going to bring violence,” sad Westside resident Gene Rawson.
The outcry was heard by the person planning to open the non-profit Butte Spirit Center that would have housed up to eight men in the home and this week decided not to open in that neighborhood. Earlier this week, more than 70 residents gathered for a community meeting to find ways to block the project.
Though the halfway house will not locate in the neighborhood, residents are not giving up the fight by improving local zoning laws.
“We have a long-term plan on how to change the laws in Butte to make this stop happening. The concern is right now we don’t have a short-term way of protecting ourselves and protecting our neighborhoods,” said Westside resident Matt DeLong.
Many were optimistic by how quickly the neighborhood pulled together.
“We all got together and came up with some great ideas about how to postpone or to come up with an ability to, with the hope that this won’t happen,” said Rawson.
The westside is a quiet, white-picket-fence neighborhood where everyone knows one another and children are safe to play — and that’s why residents fear opening a halfway house would disrupt the quality of life.
“I see children riding their bikes down the street, walking, you know what, and no one worries about it, because we all know whose kids they are, we all know where they live and this type of home coming into this type of community is going to take that away,” said DeLong.
For now, it will remain a quiet neighborhood. Halfway house organizer Sean Wisner of Whitehall said he still plans to open an addiction recovery home somewhere in Butte but does not know where.