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Fight against homelessness continues in South Bend

“Homelessness is solvable, so we just need to educate people on what we need and make it happen,” said Tom Rebman, Homeless Solutions Consultant.

Out of the cold temps and into warmth; progressively fighting homelessness in South Bend is the focus and everyone is on board.

Tuesday afternoon city of South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg addressed available and still needed resources.

“It’s especially important when we encounter anyone who might be unsheltered, that everybody in the community is informed about the resources that exist to get them inside, our of the cold, warm and safe. It’s also important for us to communicate how people can help,” said South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg.

But non-profit organizers and a homeless solutions expert who sat down with city officials back in March say its other areas that are lacking attention, starting with getting the word out to the homeless.

“They need to be communicating with the citizens,” said Rebman.

“The last warming station was open, what, two days, and closed because it wasn’t getting enough traffic. The word probably didn’t even get out to the streets,” said John Shafer, Director of Michiana Five for the Homeless.

Shafer says having a warming center operate all hours of the day would be ideal.

“The warming centers can be for anybody, not just the homeless. There’s families out there that are being evicted. We’ve seen families sleeping in vehicles. Maybe you’re housed but your furnace went out and maybe you could use a place to go to for a few days,” said Shafer.

City officials have said in the past that it’s difficult to staff these centers overnight in the first place. But Hope Ministries extended their hours because of winter conditions.

The city responded to these concerns in a statement saying “The City is taking a number of major steps forward on dealing with homelessness, including new facilities, on-the-ground outreach, support for emergency warming, and permanent supportive housing. All of this work has been in consultation with various local and external voices. For example, our working group on chronic homelessness evaluated ideas and received input from over two dozen individuals and agencies. There will always be a range of views on how best to handle these issues, and no one person has all the answers. The ideas and experts that have carried the most weight with the Mayor and this administration are those with the strongest track record of results in sheltering individuals and moving them out of chronic homelessness.”

But experts say given the current state of homelessness in the city, there’s still a lot of room to work with.

“I came up without renumeration because I’m so excited about what your community could accomplish,” said Rebman.

Other factors that were brought up by organizations were distance between warming centers and potential transportation ideas for the homeless.

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