MARICOPA, AZ - There is a battle brewing in a Maricopa neighborhood.
Residents living there are concerned over plans to turn a home in their neighborhood into a halfway house to rehabilitate women leaving prison.
"Give us a chance to get to know us,” said Katie Souza, founder and president of Expected End Ministries, which helps women get back in to mainstream society.
Souza showed up at a gathering of neighbors, which had originally been planned as a way to talk to the media.
Neighbors continuously asked Souza questions, at times getting angry over what they described as a “sneaky” attempt to move into the neighborhood without anyone knowing.
“Don't want to be your neighbor,” said one man.
“You don't know me sir,” she said.
“I know you enough that I don't want to be your neighbor,” he added.
After being carefully selected, Souza said three felons would live in the home with staff who will monitor them at all times.
"You've got children walking down the pathway," said Michelle Atanasoff, one of several mothers who showed concern for the safety of her children.
"We commend them for what they're doing. We think it's a wonderful thing. We just don't think that something like this belongs in a neighborhood setting,” Atanasoff said.
Souza assured neighbors the women selected will not be drug users, drinkers or sex offenders.
But the group of about 25 people remained skeptical.
"I feel betrayal because you have a ministry that has betrayed me. You snuck in here as far as we're concerned,” said one of the neighbors.
The ministry said they're following all the rules.
But one neighbor countered and said, "You're not welcome here...you are, but the people you bring in are not."
Souza said they don't know where to go. No one wants them in their neighborhood.
Residents have been organizing and passing out flyers with the hopes other neighbors will join in the efforts to keep the ministry from running their rehab center out of the home.
Neighbors told ABC15 their homeowner’s association is supporting them.
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