Konrad Schultz, Bonita Springs
Concerned Citizens of Bonita
What went wrong with St Matthew's House? Act II.
After St. Matthew's abandoned its efforts to buy the former Causeway Lumber site in Bonita Springs in 2011, we submitted a commentaryy entitled "What went wrong with St. Matthew's House." We asked for openness, involvement and communication.
Instead, this year, when word broke about their new effort to locate here, they denied that they were buying land near the charter school. When the contract to purchase was discovered, they stonewalled, then tried to ram through a huge, 260-bed project which did not fit the needs of this community.
We asked "Who will really stay there?" They said women and families of Bonita Springs and south Lee County. Then they stated in the press that they would bring the overflow from their East Naples and Immokalee shelters to Bonita Springs.
We asked "Is it safe?" They said safety is "of paramount importance to us."
Then a respected, independent crime expert provided a study detailing the high number of crimes committed by ex-cons and others who stay at St Matthew's House.
Now we read that their one program which helps women, children and families with long-term transitional housing in East Naples is being eliminated by St. Matthew's House and replaced with a more profitable, three-bedroom configuration —for recovering male addicts.
We urge the board of St Matthew's once again to take a closer look at how they do business. We hope that they will learn from these lessons as they now look to open in Sarasota.