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Transitional homeless housing dropped

Published: Mar. 23, 2021 at 6:22 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - A former hospital building in South Bend will not be used to provide transitional housing for the homeless, after all.

The idea died due to a stated lack of “community buy-in.”

When the owner of the building that once housed Madison Center’s Psychiatric Hospital for Children was first approached about renting out space for transitional housing for the homeless, “The first thing, when I heard, I was like, wait, you’re going to have a homeless shelter? And I was like, no, no thank you,” said David Matthews.

But Matthews eventually went from someone who wanted no part of the problem, to someone who was willing to be part of the solution.

“There’s something in between an apartment and a homeless shelter that the county’s trying to figure out how to serve,” Matthews explained. “And we don’t want them to fall down the ladder and end up back on Michigan Street in a tent city situation.”

Last summer, advocates began a program that put people without homes into motels and provided them needed services.

We’re told about 150-people are now on a waiting list for the Motels4Now program, while 150-more are currently in motels.

“They’re ready to move into a better situation including, including seven families with a total of 25 children, so we just wanted to find a place for these folks,” said St. Joseph County Task Force on Homelessness member Michael Hamann. “But if you’re going to do that you have to have some buy-in from the community and that wasn’t the case.”

The search for an acceptable site for transitional housing now goes back to square one. “The shame of it is that the people that were looking to move into Madison Center, they weren’t homeless,” said Hamman, “They’ve been stable for months in motels. They needed to move to a place where they can be more secure.”

A written statement provided by the South Bend city administration states, “We are working with the county and Motels4Now to make progress on this important issue and find the best way to extend these services.”

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