Tent city at Doulos Chapel dismantled

Published: Jul. 31, 2020 at 5:51 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - For the third time since December of 2017, a tent city for the homeless has been dismantled in South Bend.

Until today, the most recent encampment had been welcome on the grounds of Doulos Chapel for the past two months.

“Our small, poor congregation cannot do this any longer okay, we can’t do it any longer,” said Doulos Sr. pastor Mario Sims. “You know, no one showed up to take a tent. Even today, no one is showing up to take a tent.”

The deadline to dismantle the tent city was noon today. Anxiety seemed to increase as the deadline approached.

“I fought for your liberty. Why am I in a tent?” screamed homeless veteran Gary O’bryant.

“Here we go again. It’s terrible that the city hasn’t done anything about this. They had two months to find an alternative place for them to go and there’s nowhere for them to go. We need a place with port-a-potties and a hand washing station,” said concerned citizen Tonna Robinson. “They’re gonna get run out of that place, and get run out of that place, and get run out of the next place. It’s always move along, move along, but never move along to where. Where is an acceptable place for them to live?”

During the last two months Doulos found jobs for 14 camp residents and supportive housing for 10 more.

It reached the point where the residents would either move inside the Doulos building or move on.

“I would say we could house over 100 plus people,” said community activist Vernado Malone. “I’ve been emailing the mayor asking him to come tour inside the church, to donate to the church to house the homeless people here.”

Sims added, “We’ve made several offers to the city about how we can do the necessary repairs to the church and hire staffing. This requires intensive 7 days a week 24 hour staff.”

South Bend Mayor James Mueller visited the camp on Wednesday night but did not tour the inside of the church.

“I did see a proposal from Doulos a month or so ago and you know when you look at the number of people and the cost, it didn’t seem to be as cost effective as other solutions,” Mueller told 16 News Now.

Today’s tent city tear down did not require a police presence or officer involvement.

South Bend’s next tent city could already be seen forming on commercial property across the street from the church.

Doulos Chapel will go back to its original mission of feeding and clothing the needy.

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