South Bend homeless housing plan delayed

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The on-again, off-again debate over where to house South Bend’s homeless appears to be on again.

In March of last year, the South Bend Redevelopment Commission gave $1.5 million to the cause, only to find out that the city administration’s plans to spend if have changed dramatically.

A meeting on the subject Thursday drew a standing room-only crowd. Some came to support the plan, others came to question it.

In particular, there were questions about the part of the plan that calls for spending $1 million to help renovate Gemini Apartments, where six units would be set aside as supportive housing for the homeless.

The Gemini building in question is located in the 600 block of Colfax Avenue.

Some who live in the area were caught by surprise, along with some members of the South Bend Common Council.

“For us to find out at the last minute that a change had been made and this was going to be kind of rushed through gave everybody red flags. Why is the push now? Is it political reason? Or is it other kind of reasons, what’s the reason?” Councilman Oliver Davis asked.

The development comes just 2 1/2 months after many of the same neighbors opposed and defeated a plan to build 22 new units for the homeless about nine blocks away.

“South Bend Heritage should be considered a partner in our neighborhood, and so when you fail to communicate with your neighbors, that's really telling what kind of a partner you are,” neighbor Jessica Piser said.

The commission voted to delay a vote on the matter, at least until its Dec. 12 meeting, to allow for more community dialogue.

Plans call for the remaining $500,000 to go toward the construction of 20 new housing units for the homeless at a yet-to-be-determined location.