Tuesday a large group appeared in front of the Zoning Board of Appeals so they may continue their work in Rockford with the homeless.

The neighborhood non-profit organization, Miss Carly's, took the first steps needed to get the special use permit from the city of Rockford they now need to keep their doors open.

The permit became a thing of necessity after some neighbors complained to the city about the charity running in their neighborhood.

It was a packed house in the Council Chambers on Tuesday for the meeting. Seven people stood up and spoke before the council for Miss Carly's. One speech was so emotional it brought a board member to tears.

After a long debate and answering the board members' questions, the board agreed 5-0 to recommend Miss Carly's for the permit.

Carly Rice, owner of Miss Carly's told mystateline.com:

We work so hard on empowering other people, it felt really good to be empowered today,”


A set of conditions was also agreed upon at Tuesday's meeting, including hours of operation and meal service times.

Before we walked into there, we walked into the chambers,” Rice said. “I really didn't understand how unconventional this was and what a challenge it was to fit us in a legal box.”

But not all are happy with the outcome of Tuesday's meeting. Not all residents like this service being offered in their backyard.

The city wants to have strong neighborhoods and concentrating homelessness in one or two neighborhoods does not enhance that or contribute to a strong neighborhood,” said Lois Ginter, a concerned neighbor. "Miss Carly's is not the only agency in this town that renders that help. There are dozens of other agencies here that do it.”

What's the main point that they disagree on is not requiring an ID to get a meal. This just happens to be Rice's core belief:

[Some people] have just had very adverse life experiences and they're just not comfortable giving all of their information just to get a plate of food,” Rice said.

But Ginter feels differently:

If there's an incident, they don't know who it was,”  "A huge public safety problem for our neighborhood when they're not helping with the security and the personal safety of our neighborhoods."

Miss Carly's next step is going in front of the Codes and Regulation Committee on Tuesday, May 28th.

But they don't plan on stopping until they have the permit necessary to continue their work.

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