Hope Avenue Homes has some neighbors concerned

Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 6:52 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The South Bend Heritage Foundation opened its Hope Avenue Homes in April of this year, but the project isn’t without controversy.

The Hope Avenue Homes are permanent supportive housing apartments designed to get homeless people off the streets.

The apartment building in the Edison Park Neighborhood is currently at maximum capacity with 22 permanent residents.

“I really want to stress that permanent supportive housing and having an inventory of permanent supportive housing in our community is really important because it helps South Bend, Mishawaka, St. Joseph County have an alternative for high-quality housing for people that are experiencing homelessness,” said Marco Mariani, executive director at the South Bend Heritage Foundation.

Officials at the South Bend Heritage Foundation say that residents undergo extensive background checks, and if any red flags appear, they are not permitted as residents.

The background checks include violent crimes like arson, domestic violence, drug manufacturing/distribution, animal abuse, and sexual crime convictions.

“What’s great about having Hope Avenue Homes right now is it’s helping provide permanent supportive housing for individuals that have been living at motels for now or on the streets, that we’re bringing them off the coordinated entry list into an apartment community, into a caring community, with health care providers and others that are really working to help them stabilize their lives,” said Mariani.

Motel 4 Now is an overflow homeless shelter in South Bend.

Officials also say they are giving homeless people the ability to live their life without having to fight for it every day on the streets.

Neighbors in Edison Park tell 16 News Now that they are concerned the project was built without holding a public forum and that the proximity to Edison Middle School has some worried.

“We’re concerned about the crime in the neighborhood,” said neighbor Nicholas Berkebile. “It’s two hundred feet from the front door of that middle school over here.”

Neighbors wanted transparency and were perturbed when they were not given a seat at the table for open discussion.

“We only found out about it when the mayor came out here and said they were going to break ground, and they hadn’t put any stakes up or anything,” said Berkebile. “They were just going to do it.”

The South Bend Heritage Foundation says neighbors are welcome to call or stop in to share their concerns.

“To have this option now, when it’s cold outside, is a huge positive for these 22 former homeless Michiana residents,” added Mariani.