Homeless housing proposal sparking some concerns

NOW: Homeless housing proposal sparking some concerns

SOUTH BEND, Ind.-- A vacant 2-acre lot on Hope Avenue right down the street from Edison Middle School could soon be transformed into homeless housing.

Some South Bend neighbors are worried that the proposed 22-unit apartment complex may come with some repercussions.

“Immediately when we heard about this, we were concerned because it’s right next to a school,” resident Nick Burkebile said.

“We’re afraid for the children of the community, were afraid for the families of the community, were afraid for everybody and what could potentially happen,” Eileen Sullivan said.

“Just knowing that if this project that’s going to be going through that I won’t feel safe in my own home,” resident Megan Sullivan said.

If approved, the building already zoned for family housing would be able to house 22 people who are chronically homeless.

South Bend Common Council member Troy Warner, who represents the fourth district, said the new option could be a game changer for people in need and others in the community.

“The city has a severe homeless problem, we’ve been struggling with finding affordable housing and placement for those individuals,” South Bend Council member Troy Warner said.

Safety is one major concern on many residents' minds, and some fear that the complex could do more harm than good.

“I’ve seen the results of the Oliver Apartments and I know all the problems they’ve had there,” FOB president and resident Harvey Mills said. “Putting it in the middle of a school, just 100 yards from a school is not a good idea.”

Eileen Sullivan has lived in South Bend for two decades and organized a petition demanding the project be postponed. She and other neighbors said the construction plans came as a huge surprise, adding that they weren't given a chance to weigh in on the plan.

“I feel that they should’ve been more forth coming. They should’ve had more hearings to have this done,” Sullivan said.

However, warner said that was never the intention.

“I’ve been working from the start just to try to inform the neighbors and have that dialogue and communication with the project,” Warner said.

So far, Sullivan’s petition has over 200 signatures.

Warner said he will relay the concerns back to those in charge and will schedule a meeting to discuss with residents again in the near future.

Correction: We initially reported that there if the project was approved, that the building would be able to house 160 people. We have corrected the story to reflect that it is only 22 people that would be able to be housed.

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