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USA News

Ohio City drops charges against Church pastor housing the homeless

by Lydia Davies

All charges have been dropped against Pastor Chris Avell of Dad's Place church, who was using the church building to offer shelter to homeless people in his congregation.

Dad's Place began offering overnight stays last March in response to the housing shortage in Bryan.

The city of Bryan, Ohio, originally accused Avell of breaching 18 zoning code violations Avell expressed his dedication to continue serving his community following the dismissal of charges.

Last year Bryan officials launched a series of building inspections, which found multiple fire code violations including limited ventilation and inadequate exit areas.

The city explained that it pressed criminal charges against Avell because the church was jeopardising the safety of individuals by accommodating them in a building that did not meet the legal safety standards. This included limited ventilation and restricted access to safe fire exists.

However, the church argued that the building's issues stemmed from its age rather than neglect, and the church made extensive efforts to rectify the violations.

Dad's Place/Liberty Institute

In response to the city's actions, Avell filed a federal lawsuit against Bryan in January, alleging religious discrimination. Dad's Place argued that offering food and shelter aligned with its religious beliefs and was protected under the Constitution.

Despite the legal dispute, both parties have reached an agreement. The church will continue to offer temporary lodging while collaborating with the city to ensure compliance with safety regulations.

Mayor Carrie Schlade acknowledged the church's willingness to cooperate and expressed appreciation for their efforts to resolve differences amicably.

Jeremy Dys, the attorney representing Avell, emphasized that the lodging provided by Dad's Place was intended for temporary or emergency purposes only. Dys argued that the city's pursuit of criminal charges was unjust, as the church diligently worked to address the violations.

The legal battle between Dad's Place and the city of Bryan is ongoing, with a hearing scheduled for March 4. Despite the challenges, Avell remains committed to his ministry and serving those in need within his community.


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