SOUTH BEND, Ind.—Navigating the homeless problems in the city of South Bend has been a long process, dealt with many hurdles and lack of resources. In effort to try and break down those barriers, Mayor Mueller formed the Homelessness Implementation Group in August of 2020.
“We know that homelessness is one of those issues that’s multifaceted and extremely challenging to address and so we need to a make sure that we have community solutions and have all the relevant people who can assist us as we move a strategy forward,” South Bend Mayor James Mueller said.
For the several months, Mayor Mueller and his team, have come together to create the best ways to bring more support to the homeless community.
“When you’re left on the streets it’s hard for you to fully reach your potential,” Mayor Mueller said.
On Monday evening, the housing team brought a list of 4 recommendations to South Bend Common Council. The first recommendation, permanent supportive housing strategies. The city of South Bend, only having one permanent supportive housing development as of now, so this recommendation, is designed for people who have a hard time accessing services and bring more to the area.
The second, a housing trust fund. Funding for development, is also minimal and limited in the city. Having permanent funds would create a stable system of housing resources to any homeless person.
The third, an advocacy campaign. This would consist of a team to go to neighborhoods and other places like churches with educational presentations about homeless issues. All of this, to help debunk any false myths about homelessness.
Last but not least, the fourth recommendation, is having a homeless manager to work solely on homeless issues in the city.
Over the past year, the number of homeless people in the county have spiked. Mayor Mueller says, according to recent data, there’s over 500 homeless people now in St. Joseph County.
“When the numbers look like they’re increasing. As we’re trying to address the issues we have currently that just compounds the problem because it’s growing over time,” Mayor Mueller said.
So, getting these recommendations approved would be a major step towards providing them the help they need to live.
“Housing is something that is a basic need. Like food water and shelter is right there and we need to work to get our residents into a safe and sheltered environment, not for their own good but for the good of the community as well,” Mayor Mueller said.
The recommendations haven’t been approved just yet, but in the coming months the housing team will visit the common council again to hopefully have it all set in stone.