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City of South Bend hoping Fuse Project offers model for homelessness

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -

Housing First for the Homeless.

That’s what an independent expert pitched to South Bend city leaders Monday in an effort to help the city become a model of how to house those in need.

Take a drive through the streets of South Bend and you’ll notice major construction and a new building going up on the city’s south side.

The city is hoping this will help solve an ongoing issue.

Suzanna Fritzberg is Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

“People who are experiencing homelessness are worth it and it’s really the best way to help them,” said Fritzberg.

For almost a year and a half Thomas Rebman chose to be homeless himself.

Now he’s helping cities across the nation, like South Bend, to not only combat homelessness, but also an existing stigma.

“Because of misinformation, because of stereotypes, because of myths, because of all types of things, people don’t seem to classify homeless people as people,” said Rebman.

After doing studies across the nation, Rebman encourages the city to use a three-step model.

Number one in that model, is to have the city appoint a point person to collaborate and fundraise while focusing on private dollars.

Number two would be to launch an intense awareness campaign.

Finally, the third step would be to fund it.

The City of South Bend says they are continuing to pour efforts into helping those in need.

A prime example is the above mentioned construction site on the south side, which is the future site of the Fuse Project.

The Fuse Project is a collaborative project from the South Bend Heritage Foundation that will not only serve as a housing development but will also bring together service providers to help those in need for the long term.

“How committed our community is to figuring out the best ways to solve this problem and how much energy there is from the service providers, from the business community and our elected officials. Working together to attain more sustainability. In the way we deal with people who are experiencing homelessness and the way we stand beside them,” said Fritzberg.

The Fuse Project is set to open in the fall of 2017.

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