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Crime still an issue at Oliver Apartments as city considers another homeless apartment complex

NOW: Crime still an issue at Oliver Apartments as city considers another homeless apartment complex

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Newly released calls for service show crime is still an issue at South Bend's Oliver Apartments, the multimillion dollar permanent supportive housing for the community's most at-risk homeless population. Since opening in late 2017, police have been called to the apartment complex nearly 350 times. 

This comes as the South Bend Heritage Foundation pushes for a similar project on the city's near west side on Washington Street near Birdsell Street. This project would house about 20 of the city's homeless.

“We don’t need a repeat of the Oliver Apartments.” John Shafer, Homeless Advocate with the Michiana 5, said.

Shafer says the Oliver Apartments have come a long way with services offered to the homeless, but security is still a major concern. He quit referring homeless to the complex. And, at this point, he does not support the new project.

“They need round the clock protection, supervision, security or there’s going to be problems.” Shafer said.

ABC57 first looked into the crime numbers in an investigative report in September of last year. In the first 10 months of being open, police were called to the complex nearly 160 times.

“We’re talking about people who would very likely be living under a bridge if it weren’t for this facility. It’s not going to be perfect. This is not a hotel. It’s not a hospital. And, it’s not a jail." Mayor Pete Buttigieg said at the time of the first report. "Of course when you gather them in this location, there are going to be some high numbers. But watching to what happens to those numbers over time is what matters most.”

In the 11-months since that interview, the police have been called to Oliver Apartments 180 more times. The main calls were for reported unwanted persons. However, there were 11 calls for theft, 16 for harassment and stalking, 7 for violent crimes and 4 overdoses. There were no sex crimes or deaths, unlike during the first 10 months.

Mayor Buttigieg would not make himself available for an interview regarding the new numbers. Instead, a spokesperson for the city, Mark Bode, sent the following statement:

"The Oliver Apartments complex remains a model for permanent supportive housing. Tenants are often the most vulnerable residents of the community, and their challenges do not stop once they are housed. There is continued engagement between the SBPD and Heritage to best fit the needs of the tenants and neighbors, including hosting off-duty officers to resolve issues."

A zoning hearing was scheduled for this afternoon regarding the new apartment project. However, after requests from neighbors to push the hearing back, the Heritage Foundation agreed to table the hearing until August 20th. Many neighbors have voiced concerns about crime and the effectiveness of the Oliver Apartments project.

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Silverlining 39 days ago
This project, despite the flaws that are being presented in the article, still has strong measurable outcomes that justifies its existence. I would recommend Mr. French do some research into how much it costs to provide basic needs to a chronic homeless individual that frequently utilizes police/medics/shelters/hospitals. The costs are staggering and the Housing First Initiative is a starting point to reduce the costs the community has to pay for either overutilization of our emergency services, or for providing supportive housing. The VI-SPDAT is a great tool that assists organizations in identifying those who are at severe risk of death on the streets.
Silverlining 39 days ago
I would recommend interviewing other individuals for this article Mr. French. Mr. John Shafer is not a reliable source of information on the hurdles that the homeless struggle with. I would recommend contacting a representative through Center for the Homeless or Hope Ministries to get more concrete information and statistics. There are plenty of individuals who were part of the creation of the Oliver Street Apartments (from multiple agencies in our community) and Mr. Shafer was not part of any of those processes.
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