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St. Joseph County to use CARES ACT funding to house homeless in motels

Published: Oct. 1, 2020 at 10:50 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - Over the summer many homeless individuals set up camp at various locations in South Bend.

The living conditions were filthy and violent.

People asked South Bend Mayor James Mueller to step up to address the problem.

Thanks to a generous donor, the homeless were moved into motels.

The county eventually approached the city, offering to work together.

For the next six months, the county will fund the Motels4Now program.

County leaders say around 75 homeless individuals, which includes eight minors, are living in motels.

“We are thrilled with the news today after weekly meetings with the county that we’ve come to an agreement with a proposal to move forward,” said Araquel Bloss from Helping the Homeless.

The county will use around $570,000 of CARES ACT grant funding.

One of the eligible uses is “for expenses for care for homeless populations provided to mitigate COVID-19 effects.”

“According to the health department, [the money] would go a long way to prevent the spread of COVID if you have these homeless individuals who are [living together], keeping them from living in congregant situations,” said St. Joseph County auditor Mike Hamann.

The money will help with lodging, transportation, and salaries for two women who have been on the frontlines from the beginning.

“When these folks were out living in misery, in that parking lot, in the middle of a heat wave, those folks were out there ministering to them almost daily,” Hamann said.

“We’ve been with tent city number one, number two, number three and number four,” said Bloss.

The county has also been meeting with the city.

“I felt it was incumbent upon us to step up and say you know what, you have a partner here man. We will help you. You don’t have to deal with this alone. These are county residents as well as city residents,” said Hamann.

In a statement, Mueller says in part, “We’re grateful for the county’s collaboration in addressing the difficult issue of homelessness in our community.”

Mueller’s administration says they are looking to move forward with this partnership, adding they may supplement their funding for the motel program with wrap-around services.

In addition, city leaders say they are working with Hope Ministries and the Center of the Homeless to provide weather amnesty.

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