Senator Adam Kline, who represents the 37th District, is set to mediate talks between the New Hope Baptist Church, which intends to house 10 to 12 ex-felons in transitional housing in the Central District, and the 22nd Avenue Blockwatch, which raised serious concerns about having ex-felons housed in their neighborhood.

Kline is arranging approximately four meetings between the parties, with each group being represented by no more than four people. At the end of the meetings, the groups should have a clear time line for moving ex-felons into the neighborhood. He says, "I want Reverend Jeffrey to succeed. And one thing I’ve made clear: both sides need to abide by any agreement that they reach."

Kline likens creating ex-felon housing to baseball, and what he calls the Jackie Robinson effect: "Robinson had to be unarguably the best second baseman around because people were prejudiced against him. If Reverend Jeffrey wants to succeed, his program must be the best. It must help ex-felons get back on track and keep neighbors safe. And I don't think he's shown neighbors yet why it will be."

Peter Nevin, a spokesman for the 22nd Avenue Blockwatch, agrees. "The vast majority of people in our neighborhood want this to work well," he says. "Nobody wins if this program fails—not the neighborhood, or the church, or the housing residents." He says the blockwatch is asking primarily for good communication from the church.

Last month, a public meeting meant to unite the parties under a Good Neighbor Agreement (that would be unenforceable by the city) ended with the 22nd Avenue Blockwatch withdrawing from negotiations. Currently, no date has been set to move ex-felons into the vacant transitional home, which has been rented by the church since January.