South Bend Mayor outlines next steps after police and protesters clash at 'tent city'

Published: May. 26, 2020 at 10:15 PM EDT
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Dozens of people in South Bend dealing with homelessness now face uncertainty after being removed from the 'tent city' on the corner of Monroe St. and Michigan St.

The clashes between protesters and police resulted in three arrests, and dozens more searching for a new place to set up shelter.

With the help of volunteers, many of these people will set up their tents at Doulos Chapel Church Tuesday night, while a longer term solution is discussed.

"What motivates me is just in general helping the city-helping [the homeless]. They deserve a place to be. They deserve help," said volunteer Amanda Jean Grove.

Other advocates say they're speaking with leaders at the church to let the tents stay longer than just tonight.

South Bend Mayor James Mueller spoke to the common council about what he thinks needs to happen right now to address chronic homelessness in the city.

"In the short term, what I'd be proposing is opening up a nighttime amnesty shelter as quickly as possible, using additional funds from H.U.D. that are coming from the cares act, and then run the winter amnesty center at the same site as we work on long term solutions," he said.

While speaking to his council about the next steps, he reflected on today's events with us saying, "My administration will continue to work on solutions, both short and long term, to alleviate the complex issue of homelessness in South Bend. I am hopeful our well-intentioned advocates work with us on solutions. The City cannot encourage or turn a blind eye toward unmanaged, large encampments because of the compounding health and safety issues they generate.

Finding a solution to chronic homelessness challenged the mayor since he stepped into office, and considering the coronavirus pandemic doesn't make the search any easier

Mueller also said at the meeting, the 'tent city' started on private property, but once it got too big, it moved across the street onto the lot owned by the city.

They gave the group a 72 hour notice before forcibly removing them Tuesday.