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City council talks "Homeless Bill of Rights"

SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- The homelessness issue downtown has been a hot button issue in the city for years and tensions have come to an all-time high in the last couple of months.

The City Council is making some big moves to appease those advocating for fair treatment of those who call the streets their home.

The city has agreed to look into the idea of a “Homeless Bill of Rights” and held a meeting to discuss it with the public Wednesday night.

“I don’t think enough people stick up for the rights of the homeless and I think we all need to be out here advocating for their rights otherwise they won’t get what they deserve,” says South Bend resident Rebecca Burton.

The goal would be to eliminate discrimination and re-affirm that the homeless are entitled to the same rights and privileges as other citizens. It could allow them the right to rest in public spaces.

While just over a dozen people showed up for the first meeting, Tonna Robinson knows there’s a lot more support out there for the potential Bill of Rights. She collected around 500 signatures to present to the council.

“I’m hoping to see the homeless have the same rights as everybody else. I can live wherever I want to live and code enforcement doesn’t come into my house and tell me that I need to pick up and move along or that I’m a nuisance or that I’m an embarrassment to the city and no one should be told that,” says Robinson.

While some council members mentioned this could inundate the city with more people than they can accommodate, Health and Public Safety Committee Chair Jo Brogan says it’s simply not an issue.

“That has been a recurring concern that has frankly, in my opinion, has been unmet, and not just my opinion but statistically. There’s really no validity to that concern. Certainly it’s nice that’s its voiced because it is a frequent misconception though,” says Brogan.

The committee is planning to hold another meeting at a location other than the county city building in hopes of getting more people interested in attending. As soon as that is scheduled we will pass along the where and when.


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