South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg discusses the new plan for abandoned and vacant housing, a raise for 911 dispatchers, the 311 call center and the SBPD's new SWAT vehicle – touching on the hot topics in South Bend in his February monthly chat.
Buttigieg unveiled a plan Wednesday to eliminate 1,000 vacant and abandoned homes in 1,000 days.
“It’s ambitious; it’s aggressive, but that’s how we like to work in this administration,” he says.
The plan calls for either rehabiliting or demolishing blighted properties, to prevent them from becoming havens for criminals and eye sores for neighborhood residents.
The Mayor is asking for local businesses, non-profits, and individuals to aid the city in the rehabilitation process.
Some have cited the dollar-house program, in which the city sold homes for a dollar, and the new owners took responsibility for the property. He says the problem with that program is that not enough people were stepping in, and in most cases, the city does not own the property.
911 dispatchers in South Bend were underpaid compared to similar cities, until recently.
Mayor Buttigieg unveiled plans to give all dispatchers raises, to bring them up to standard rates.
“This was our chance to do right by those employees, and hopefully retain their specialized skill sets longer,” he says.
Officials recently purchased a heavy-duty armored truck for South Bend's SWAT team.
“This is a vehicle that’s meant to save lives,” Buttigieg says.
He cites instances just in the past year in which officers feared losing their lives in the line of duty.
He says much of it was paid with federal forfeiture money.
Mayor Buttigieg campaigned for mayor on a promise to implement a 311 hotline for the city.
He says the water works, waste water, solid waste, and street departments are already set up. He cites the ability to report pot holes at 311.
“The whole idea is to be able to solve peoples’ problems in real time, without having to file through a phonebook, wondering which department to call,” he says.
An operator will answer on the other end of the line. Eventually all city operations will be accessible through the 311 hotline.