The City Council on Tuesday night approved the use of city office space for $1 a year and a community garden plot for an organization headed by Susannah Murdock, daughter of Councilwoman Sally Robinson.
Councilwoman Deborah Scott was opposed to the arrangement with Neema Resettlement Outreach. She questioned whether the group has religious affiliations and whether the city was setting a precedent for such arrangements with private groups.
Councilwoman Carol Berz questioned a change in the group's mission statement "in the past hour.
The vote approved the group occupying space in the city's human services building at 501 W. 12th St. Neema has already been using the space for about 18 months.
Councilman Peter Murray said there was no precedent set, saying the city had given similar deals to many other groups, including the East Lake Senior Citizens.
Ms. Murdock acknowledged that the group had "sanitized" the mission statement for city purposes, taking out an exclusion for Hispanics.
She said the group actually does help some Hispanics, but she said that mission is being handled by La Plaz and others. She said Neema's main focus is immigrants, including those of African background.
Councilman Manny Rico, who is Hispanic, said he had no problem with the non-Hispanic clause, saying the group is doing good work with others.
Neema sponsors a community garden on the Westside. Ms. Murdock said it is mainly for Neema clients, but is available for use by others.
The word ministry had formerly been in the group's name, but Ms. Murdock said it does not have a religious affiliation.
Ms. Robinson and Ms. Berz abstained and Ms. Scott was opposed.