Community leaders in South Bend call on mayor to address homelessness

Published: Jul. 10, 2020 at 11:27 PM EDT
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Doulos Chapel in South Bend is currently hosting the new tent city, but Pastor Mario Sims wants the homeless moved out and housed by July 31.

Sims said he originally committed to 24 hours, but it has been about a month and a half now.

Sims also said tent city is only a short-term solution to addressing homelessness and said his small congregation can only do so much.

“I think anyone would understand that that’s a lot to ask people to do, without pay,” Sims said.

Sims said he needs the city to step up, but claims South Bend Mayor James Mueller has been unresponsive.

“We sent a proposal to the mayor, a housing proposal, through Henry Davis saying if you don’t have a plan, we have a plan,” Sims said.

In a statement, Mueller’s administration said in part: “There are no quick or easy solutions for our neighbors experiencing chronic homelessness.”

“That’s just not true. Other cities have declared emergencies around homelessness and what that allows the mayor told us it would take 45 days minimum to get the permit to reopen Salvation Army. Once he declares a state of emergency it takes zero days to get that permit,” said South Bend Common Councilwoman Lori Hamann.

“They funded the Center for the Homeless and Hope Rescue, both of which doors are closed. The city has paid this money out, but apparently the situation with tent city never came across their radar,” said Sims.

“It’s heartbreaking. It’s shameful. It’s just bad. I’m not happy with any of it. Quite a shame to be a city leader at this point,” said South Bend Common Council member Henry Davis.

Mueller’s administration also said, “The administration will continue to build off progress in recent years to expand the number of permanent supportive housing units as well as explore the establishment of low-barrier emergency shelter outside of weather amnesty periods.” 

The Monroe Park Neighborhood Association is holding a press conference Monday morning, calling for immediate action from the city.

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