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Community members urge city officials to turn vacant Salvation Army building into housing for homeless

Community members calling on City of South Bend to turn it’s old Salvation Army building into permanent housing for homeless.
Community members calling on City of South Bend to turn it’s old Salvation Army building into permanent housing for homeless.(WNDU)
Published: Jul. 13, 2020 at 5:30 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Over the last two months, people living in South Bend’s tent city have been forced to move from location to location, and now with only weeks before they’ll have to move again, one local group is demanding city leaders to step up.

“This is a public health concern,” At Large Council woman Lori Hamaann says.

For years, finding a solution to South Bend’s homeless problem has never came into fruition.

“They’re alone. They have no one to care for them. They have no one to talk to,” Tery O’Bryant, who’s been homeless since 2018, told the media on Monday.

However, one local group, the Monroe Park Neighborhood Association, says the old Salvation Army building on Main Street, just south of downtown, may be the key to solving it.

“If they would open this up and allow people come here, then they would have a safe place to go. I think this is a great solution. It’s better than living in a tent with no bathroom, no shower,” MPNA Vice President Stacey Odom says.

And with no guarantee how long it will be until it’s onto the next property, O’Bryant says he just wants a place he can call home.

“I don’t want to be out here. I don’t want to walk around like a bunch of lost sheep out here not knowing where my next destination is. I’m just following everybody else. Nothing to do out here in the sun all day,” O’Bryant explained.

For that reason, Hamaann says she’s come up with a resolution, along with several members from the MPNA, to propose to Mayor Mueller to declare a state of emergency. It is a move that would allow access to funding that would allow the city to turn the vacant property into permanent sustainable housing for the homeless almost immediately.

“Some of these individuals have been through significant suffering, and we need to be compassionate, and we need to take care of them,” Hamaann says.

Odom says she too is on-board with the resolution, which includes opening the building as a 24-hour shelter with services and care, with hopes it will allow those living in tents to have proper housing.

“Everybody needs help at some certain point in their life, and it is time for us to do it now because it has been going on for years,” Odom says.

Clear in his message, O’Bryant says he hopes city officials consider the resolution because without it, it will continue to put the lives of several residents, who have no choice but to live in a tent encampment, in danger.

“I don’t like living on the streets. I don’t want to be on the streets. We need this,” O’Bryant says.

The MPNA will be proposing a resolution regarding their concerns with homelessness in South Bend at a City Council meeting at 7 p.m.

Stick with 16 News Now on-air and online as this story develops.

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