Merit Inn capital request requires further review

In the Clarion commentary on April 11, you are right about Love INC benefiting from their capital fund request of $1.75 million in state funds, but you are wrong to paint with broad strokes that it would benefit the community. What would benefit the community is to plan and provide homeless and low income housing that the entire community has the privilege and responsibility for helping to plan and figuring out how to pay for. Love INC should have never been allowed to house the homeless in the Merit Inn and did so without benefit of public involvement and input. While housing the homeless is a pressing and urgent issue, the Merit Inn is not the appropriate facility to answer this need. It happens that it was a very convenient solution for a prominent Kenai family to be able to lease the Merit Inn to Love INC in order to derive revenue from an empty facility, without first addressing the numerous serious code violations in existence when they leased the facility. This same prominent Kenai family should have fixed all those code violations before being allowed to lease the facility, but someone looked the other way and allowed this family to lease a seriously deficient building to Love INC.

Now they want to allow Love INC to buy this seriously defective structure without repairing or addressing any of these code violations, but will pass these violations onto Love INC to address, repair, and/or upgrade, with $1.75 million from our state funds. I submit to you, if you were going to buy a home, which had numerous serious code violations, do you think you would buy that home without first demanding that the homeowner address those code violations? In fact, no bank would look twice at you to underwrite a mortgage if those violations were not first corrected. So why should our “state bank” look twice at this organization to provide funds to buy a grossly defective, deficient building, regardless of the cause?

Does Love INC provide a necessary service for a worthy cause? Yes, of course. Is it a viable, profitable business appropriate to the business corridor, providing revenue to the City of Kenai? No, it is not. As opposed to the Clarion’s editorial opinion, it is not a win-win and should not be considered such. We need to step back, make a plan for the homeless and execute that plan in a rational, well thought out manner.

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