Neighbors working on solutions for South Bend's 'tent city'

Published: Jun. 23, 2020 at 6:00 PM EDT
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It's been a few weeks since a new tent city set up camp at the Doulos Chapel in South Bend.

16 News Now shows us what it looks like now.

Residents here in the Monroe Park neighborhood of South Bend as well as those living in the tent city at Doulos Chapel can agree on one thing--the situation is not ideal. That sets up an opportunity to talk about a more permanent housing solution.

"Lets work together to find out what the solution is. This is not the solution," said homelessness advocate Clara Ross.

Residents in the Monroe Park neighborhood say there's been more drug dealing and violence since tent city set up camp, but they're not blaming it on those living in the encampment.

"The company it brings is first thing in the morning, last thing at night. My kids hear all kinds of vulgar language, sexual activity in the parking lots, fights, someone almost got stabbed the other day. It's crazy," said neighborhood resident Symphonie Ellington.

There are less than 30 tents on the property.

Neighborhood residents say they're feeling the burden of a much larger social problem, which is why they are working with Doulos Chapel on solutions.

"So it's not so much that this can't be moved somewhere else. That's not really the ultimate goal. I do think though, sooner rather than later we have to come up with something else besides this tent camp. This just shouldn't be. We shouldn't have people living in tents with no restrooms and no running water," said Monroe Park Neighborhood Association secretary Margie Pfeil.

Advocates are working to resolve the issues that make it tough for these people to find housing in the first place.

"There's a lot of things that are intertwined with this that a lot of people don't think about. Like the mental illnesses, the other advocates that don't want this to be successful. There's a lot of different things going on," said Fix it Forward founder Wayne Hubbard.

"Since tent city has been here, literally, we have 9 people employed now. That has never happened at any other tent city," Ross said.

The next step is to share these ideas with each other and get law makers involved.

Wednesday the Monroe Park Neighborhood Association will be hosting a zoom call so they can speak with various parties and get their input, like the folks living in tent city, advocates of the tent city, and city government officials.

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