Neighbors upset with arrival of home for teens

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OGDEN, Utah -- A group home for troubled teens is moving into an upscale neighborhood on Ogden's east bench, and some neighbors don't want it in their backyard.

The Blodgett family sold their home at 1528 27th St. a week ago and said, until two days before closing the deal, they had no idea it would be turned into a group home for teens.

They thought another family was moving in and are upset. Other neighbors feel deceived and are left with a lot of concerns and questions.

WayPoint Academy treats boys from across the country at a boarding school in Huntsville. The teens are ages 13 to 18 and the school helps them manage fear and social disorders.

The Ogden home would help the teens transition back to their homes. Eight boys would live at the 27th Street address at any given time with two adults supervising around the clock, but that doesn't comfort neighbor Tricia Taylor who has two young daughters.

"To bring eight kids who are inclined to have problems next door to my house increases my risk," Taylor said.

Neighbor Cheryl Robertson also expressed concern.

"This is my safe haven, this is where I come home to be safe and relax and not worry about anything and enjoy my home. I work hard, I'm mad, mad, mad."

In November, a WayPoint teen allegedly stole a van from the facility and left without permission. The academy's clinical director insists that's extremely rare and these teens aren't violent or in the program under court order.

"These are not the types of boys that are acting out in their community,” said Waypoint Academy Clinical Director Mike Bulloch. “They're good kids, going to school or at least trying to go to school, they have good intentions."

But residents are upset that they and Ogden city leaders had no say in the matter. Under federal law, the group home is categorized as a residential facility for the disabled, which is allowed in residential zoning.

"There's a federal Fair Housing Act and under the auspices of that and the state guidelines that go with that, group homes are allowed to move into neighborhoods," said Caitlin Gochnour, an Ogden City Council member

Gochnor also lives a few doors from the home and said she was surprised by the news but hopes it can be a "win-win" and bring the neighborhood closer.

"I'm hopeful,” Gochnor said. “I think they're gonna be good neighbors, they obviously know they're going to move into a neighborhood and they'll reach out.”

"It upsets me that she would say it's a win-win if my home is de-valuing, I can't resell my home and the children are unsafe in the neighborhood, I find it hard to believe that's a win-win for anyone involved," said neighbor Kort Robertson.

WayPoint Academy officials said the teens should start moving in by early June. Clinical Director Mike Bulloch said he's happy to talk with neighbors and offer a tour of his Huntsville facility. Bulloch also plans to be a part of a large community meeting with neighbors, city leaders, the police chief and mayor coming up at the end of May.

Meanwhile, while the Weber County Sheriff's Office confirms the stolen van report, Sgt. Lane Findlay said Waypoint has a clean well-run facility in Huntsville that has few calls involving the sheriff's office.

30 comments

  • Victoria Cordero

    WOW! Some kind of friendly neighborhood they’ve got there. I bet the people upset about the home would sound a lot different if it was their child needing help. But I don’t think they would even notice if their child did because I don’t think they want anything to do with someone different or with problems. So sad. Such cold hearted people.

  • Kimberly

    Wow. What ignorant people! These kids didn’t kill someone! They have social problems, for.crying out loud!
    They say their children won’t be safe…. I think the only people they aren’t safe from are their own parents. They try to shelter their kids so much that children hardly learn what empathy is and will probably end up in a group home just like this.
    All I can do is shake my head at stories like this and remind myself to not be like them.

    • Bob

      True, Kimberly, these kids haven’t killed anybody. Let me guess …. You’d gladly welcome a sexual predator into the home next door to you and your children.

      Of course a group home for trouble teens is totally acceptable to you …. just as long it isn’t in your own backyard.

    • Bob

      Where did it say these kids aren’t sexual predators Jo? It says they are ‘troubled’, and that covers a whole range of misbehaviors.

  • shang

    I think it’s a little judgmental to assume that just because people are concerned about there safety and children’s safety that they are ignorant and unfriendly. The truth is that the Blodgetts were deceived when they they sold the home and the rest of the neighborhood had no say in a group home for troubled kids moving right next door. Maybe Kimberly and Victoria don’t have children or maybe it’s just easy to judge others when you don’t have to worry about the risk yourself?

    It’s an additional potential risk. Caitlin is probably right and things will likely be okay. There’s just more potential for problems now than there was before.

    • Dan, Fair Housing Attorney

      If the sellers had refused to sell the home to the group home operator, they would have violated the Fair Housing Act and would likely be as guilty of housing discrimination as the neighbors who are trying to exclude these children with disabilities (yes, mental illness is a disability). It’s no different than if the seller refused to sell to somebody because they were Muslim, not a Mormon, Hispanic, African American, or have children. Frankly, it’s none of the sellers’ business that their house was bought by a group home operator.

  • mikaela

    I live in this neighborhood and these people do not speak for me. I welcome this group home to my neighborhood and applaud them in their efforts to give these boys a chance at a normal life.

    • Bob

      It is one thing to live in the neighborhood, and quite another thing to have a home for troubled youth next door. People want neighbors next door, not problem children next door.

      • Mama Mouse

        It’s a good thing they aren’t troubled then. People keep using that word and yet that is not what they are. Look at the site, do research, keep an open mind before judging. These are things that help make an accurate assessment of a situation without over reacting.

        “Students enrolled at WayPoint are not “troubled youth” as their admissions aren’t consequences of prolonged misbehaviors. Anxiety negatively impacts life quality and the ability to complete necessary milestones. “

    • Bob

      Moma Mouse: If these kids aren’t “troubled youth” why aren’t they living at home with their parents, or living with foster families? If they are in fact “troubled youth” I can understand why neighbors wouldn’t want a group of them living next door.

  • oldhess

    I have two daughters and this home moving in next to me would infuriate me. But I bring a different back ground. I Work on the Pediatric and adolescent Psych unit so I know who these kids are and what exactly troubled means. These people have every right to be angry and their concerns are valid.

    • Bradley

      If these kids are the types of kids you supposedly work with, why aren’t they in the psych unit rather than a private school? That comment sounds pretty general and judgmental based on little information.

      • Bob

        No, “tellusyoursterileplease”, it shounds like “oldhess” is educated and has a degree. Unfortunately you share neither qualification.

    • carla

      Oldhess, after working in a psych unit you should know that not every kid has the same issues. A kid can be “troubled” if he has oppositional defiant disorder and also if he has socia phobia. These kids are not in a lockdown psych unit because they are not a threat to themselves or others. They have difficulty in interacting socially and suffer from sever social anxiety and ocd. They have improved in their behavior and ability to deal with their anxieties to the point that they have begun the transition to returning home. They are not violent and they are in a treatment facility because their families do not have the skills to be able to help them and teach them effective coping skills. So they have been sent to recieve help from trained professionals and with that help they are now ready to begin the process of going home by living in a transitional home.

      Give these kids a chance.

      • oldhess

        If these kids are so great and deserve to be in transition, why aren’t they with their parents? Their parents are afraid or don’t want them a home till their behavior is in check. So that means they can come live next to me?

    • oldhess

      I give these kids a chance all day. I work with them, empathize with them, speak at their court hearings and to their social workers. This kids are troubled and I want to give them a fighting chance, BUT NOT AT THE RISK OF MY FAMILY

  • Bradley

    I’d like to know what they mean by troubles kids. I think of Troubled kids as teens that have been adjudicated or at least have run-ins with the law. This story said these teens have anxiety struggles and based on their website these are not meet my definition of troubled kids. Have you ever met a teen that didn’t leave his house or room for months at a time due to social anxiety? That appears to be this kind of population. I think more accuration information would help these neighbors.

  • Patsy

    Thank you to those who keep an open mind. Please educate yourself about these boys and their challenges BEFORE you judge. I have met each and every one of these boys as they have and continue to volunteer on my farm and place of business. I am a widow with more work than I can handle and these sweet boys willingly and enthusiastically come to help me with chores. I have also had the opportunity to meet their parents. They are extremely intelligent young men who come from good homes but for a number of reasons have challenges with anxiety. And yes, many kids do. These boys are fortunate to have the opportunity to learn life skills at Waypoint and if they have made it to a transition home they are miles ahead of where they started when first enrolled. Not only do I welcome the facility in my neighborhood and would be happy to have the transition home next door, I would and have welcomed these boys IN my home and I hope their new neighbors will do the same. They will be an asset to your neighborhood. Compassion dear friends.

    • Bob

      My concern is for the neighbors. People who invest in the cost of a home want to beautify it, and they want good neighbors. What they don’t want is a commercial enterprise with the problems and increased traffic associated with them.

      If you are so enamored with these boys why not let them build on your farm. A win win for everybody.

  • Beth

    This hits very close to home as we toured Waypoint Academy when looking for a school for my son. We ended up in a nearby town at a similar school and he did live in a residential neighborhood as part of his program. (The only difference is that they were welcome there) it was a fantastic transitional part of the program. He has now graduated from the program and is a college student in the nearby area, doing great and living independently. How sad that people are so quick to judge and blame others. These boys are less savvy at coping with life’s challenges than others. But as a community we would rather ignore the potential harm this could cause if not given the necessary guidance and treatment. We would rather wait until we can blame them for making poor choices and then turn to the parents ask why they were never given help. Again, someone else to blame. Be grateful that these places exist. Be hopeful that one day your child does not need that care. And if they do – be prepared to take the blame and be unwelcomed by the community they live in. Because most people are ignorant until they have no choice not to be.

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