Catholic Action Center in north-side neighborhoods
By Jeff Gross
Nearly as soon as I moved to the north side in February 2009, I heard people call the Catholic Action Center a neighborhood pariah. At a Martin Luther King Neighborhood Association meeting, Movable Feast outlined their renovation plans for the former Nanna’s Soul Food. Local residents were concerned that Movable Feast would be another Catholic Action Center. They wanted reassurance that Movable Feasts’ clients would not come to the organization’s location at the corner of Fifth and Silver Maple and that it wouldn’t end up like the Catholic hospitality house three blocks down at Fifth and Chestnut. This isn’t to say that neighbors’ concerns are unfounded: a quick search of the Lexington Division of Police’s Crime Map shows a significant number of calls to the Fifth and Chestnut intersection, though most other intersections in the Williams Wells Brown, MLK, and North Limestone neighborhoods also show high numbers of police calls.
Between February 2009 and January 2010, I put little thought into the Catholic Action Center’s presence in our neighborhood. Perhaps because I lived five blocks away, I never paid much attention to the Center. I had no reason, good or bad, to notice it. Homeless persons walked down my street throughout the day, though I had no way of knowing if they were going to the Catholic Action Center or somewhere else in the area. Since then, I’ve learned that many of the people passing through the north side are heading to Baker Iron and Metal off Seventh Street to exchange cans for cash. Others in our area are making their way back to the Hope Center or some of the camps off North Broadway.