Several business owners spoke about issues related to Wheeler Mission at the Aug. 9 Bloomington Plan Commission meeting. The shelter is seeking approval for expansion of its facility on South Westplex Avenue, off of West 3rd St.
Business owners cited property damage, aggression, drug use, theft, trash (including needles) and urine/feces left on the grounds. They discussed the expense of installing security and paying for cleanup, and frustrations that the problems have exacerbated in the past few months. Similar concerns have been reported by businesses along the B-Line, South Walnut and Kirkwood areas.
Watch the discussion on CATS here. Read the Wheeler Mission proposal here.
United Way of Monroe County, the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County, and the South Central Housing Network (SCHN) have released the “Heading Home 2021: A Regional Plan for Making Homelessness Rare, Brief, and Non-Repeating.” This plan is intended serve as a community guide to support long-term initiatives in reducing and eliminating regional housing insecurity and homelessness in Monroe County.
The plan focuses on the Housing First model, a broad philosophy to house people impacted by homelessness as quickly as possible. Having stable housing creates a foundation that better equips households to address the underlying issues that resulted in housing insecurity and/or homelessness.
Recommendations include creating two full-time positions, housed initially at the United Way, to help implement the plan. Organizers are seeking funding from the City of Bloomington, Monroe County and other sources.
Read the Heading Home 2021 report here.
At a meeting that lasted over nine hours, a homeless encampment ordinance was defeated on a 4-4 vote of the Bloomington Council.
The Chamber had opposed the ordinance, which would have allowed encampments in public parks under certain conditions. It was supported by co-sponsors Matt Flaherty, Isabel Piedmont-Smith and Kate Rosenbarger, as well as Steve Volan. Voting against it were Dave Rollo, Susan Sandberg, Sue Sgambelluri and Ron Smith. Council president Jim Sims was absent due to a death in his family.
Read coverage in the Bloomington Herald-Times (paywall), WFIU and the B Square Beacon. CATS video of the meeting can be viewed here.
The following press release was issued by the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce to oppose the proposed Bloomington Council Ordinance 21-06 regarding homeless encampments:
Based on overwhelming feedback from members, the Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce opposes the proposed Bloomington Council Ordinance 21-06 that would allow encampments in public parks for extended periods.
“Over the past year we’ve heard increasing complaints and deep concerns voiced by members of the business community regarding encampments at Seminary Park and elsewhere,” said Erin Predmore, the Chamber’s president and CEO. “We must find an alternative way to support the needs of houseless residents that does not negatively impact local businesses, the jobs they provide, and the broader community.”