Police and county officials, along with a company hired from Indianapolis, cleared a camp of empty houses off Monroe County public land south of Second Street on October 6. The removal is one of several over the past year as the city and county continue to remove camps, forcing unaccommodated people to relocate.
health and safety concerns
Monroe County Attorney Jeff Cockerill said the county has an ordinance banning camping on its property and can remove camps that violate this ordinance.
“The biggest reason we have that ordinance is for health and safety,” Cockerill said. Yes, and our youth services shelter is nearby, so that was a concern.”
He said the county has an obligation to public health and businesses and residents near the camps. He said there was no other option but to force them into shelters where they didn’t want to stay.
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Bloomington community member Jesse Leach has been homeless for four years.
He said most camps put garbage in bags, although there are some unhoused camps with garbage and needles. . Designating a dumping ground for people living in the camp would help keep the camp clean, he said.
“We can keep it much cleaner,” Leach said. “People will respect us a little more and not want to kick us out.”
He said providing more housing options would solve the problem of too much trash in unhoused camps, which could lead to health and safety concerns.
“If we want to reduce what they’re complaining about, we need more housing, because once we have apartments, we have bins to dump our rubbish in,” Leach said.
According to HT, as of August 2022, Bloomington will have less than 10% of rentals under $1,000 per month, and just 2% of rentals under $700 per month.
Ensure adequate shelter and housing
Cockerill said the county does not currently have many resources to provide for the homeless. Most of the resources they do go to United Way partners. He said third-party nonprofits like United Way have a better perspective than the county when it comes to helping people experiencing homelessness.
Leach lived in homeless camps and shelters before moving to Crawford Homes. Crawford Homes, part of Beacon, Inc., is a non-profit organization that provides support services to reduce the number of people experiencing hunger, poverty and homelessness in Bloomington.
Leach said he had applied for housing for the past four years and had his application approved just before he underwent heart surgery.
Related: [Plans for affordable homes in northwest Bloomington hope to decrease the unhoused population]
“I was really terminally ill until someone got on it and helped me find a place to stay,” Leach said.
Leach said approved designated areas for camping outdoors and staying warm can help. Leach doesn’t choose to stay at the shelter because he knows he won’t be allowed in because of breeding. .
During my time at the shelter, I was kicked out several times because I was late returning to the shelter due to the curfew.
Bloomington has enough shelter for homeless residents, but surrounding areas are in short supply, said Forrest Gilmore, executive director of Beacon. There is also a shortage of affordable housing, which ranges from free to $400, he said.
how to help
Gilmore said public lands have a special obligation to protect people’s rights, and removing people from public lands is a violation of their fundamental rights.
“Homelessness is dangerous and difficult, and expelling someone makes it even more dangerous,” Gilmore said.
He said most individuals living on the streets have experienced long-term homelessness or have some, if not multiple types of, disability, which can lead to higher mortality rates. said.
“Because we work with people with extraordinary levels of disability, we need to see them where they are, and often where they are most in need of support and help,” Gilmore said. said.
He said there is always work to be done and would like more funding. Gilmore said communities, not just counties, work together to provide affordable housing for low-income people and support services such as health care, recovery work, mental health care, and basic life and survival skills. Gilmore said it can provide.
There are three important things people can do to help those experiencing homelessness: donate to nonprofits like Beacon, donate essential items such as clothing and hygiene products, and volunteer at shelters. It’s one.