Mixed feelings about proposed apartments for homeless

NOW: Mixed feelings about proposed apartments for homeless


SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- About 70 people packed the basement of St. Paul's Memorial United Methodist Church for the Near West Side Neighborhood Association's monthly meeting on Tuesday night. Almost everyone was there to hear and discuss the proposal for a new apartment complex on West Washington Street, designed to house South Bend's homeless.

The meeting was designed in parts. First, two residents had a mock debate. They each had 10 minutes to make their case. The proponent mentioned support from several homeless advocacy groups and research showing the benefits of getting the homeless off the street. While the opponent cited drugs, prostitution and poor management.

After the mock debate, the rest of the crowd was given 2 minutes a piece to make their statements.

“We don’t need that project over there by the churches, but the kids.” One resident said.

“It helps solve problems.” Another neighbor claimed.

The proposed apartments for the chronically homeless would house about 20 people. It would be the second of it's kind by the South Bend Heritage Foundation. The first project, the Oliver Apartments, has had its problems.

In less than two years, police have been called to the Oliver Apartments, in Rum Village, nearly 350 times.

Resident Jessica Piser says she went to a meeting with the Rum Village Neighborhood Association. She told the crowd folks who live near the Oliver Apartments told her neighbors have to stay vigilant, keeping a close eye on possible crime. 

“I don’t have time to be monitoring an apartment building. And the people living over there, I don’t think that’s what they signed up for, monitoring crime.” She said.

The Near West Side Neighborhood Association also passed out ballots for residents to vote on the project. 29 voted against the proposal. 22 voted in favor. 8 were undecided with a "maybe" vote. The association plans to submit that tally along with notes from the meeting to the Common Council.

The proposal is set for a zoning hearing on August 20th. 

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