Protesters chalk South Bend's County City Building, demand more help for city's homeless
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - Dozens of people gathered at the County City Building in downtown South Bend to send a message to Mayor James Mueller and the South Bend Common Council: take action to help South Bend's homeless population. They want the city to build more permanent shelter for the homeless.
"To see people who are living in tents, and that's the only possession that they have, and they're sweltering in this heat," said protester Madolyn Wesaw, who was homeless for a time herself.
"They're freezing to death in the winter, and nothing's being done about it because it's 'not my problem.' That's abhorrent."
The protesters spent the early evening writing messages like "Love thy neighbor" and "No shelter, No peace" on the ground, outer walls, windows and sidewalk in front of the County City Building hoping to get the attention of city leaders as they enter the building.
"Hopefully, they see that the people want help for the homeless and they have a change of heart," Protester Adam Ahmed said.
Mayor Mueller's office released a statement in response to the city's homeless troubles.
The City is in communication with local service providers to see what more we can do to fill gaps in the short term, including the establishment of a temporary emergency shelter. There are no quick or easy solutions for our neighbors experiencing chronic homelessness. The City continues to support national best practices and the housing first approach to establish low barrier housing options, including additional permanent supportive housing units. Developing meaningful solutions takes time, willing and able partners, and sustainable funds. As the City continues to work with community partners to find solutions to this critical issue, the Mayor is convening an implementation group with key community stakeholders, Council representatives and the administration.
For some of the Friday protesters, that is not enough.
"I want to see the city take action and not just promise to work with the community," Wesaw said. "I want them to actually hold themselves accountable."
Friday's group wanted to see the Common Council override Mayor Mueller's veto of a council resolution that would have given more resources to the homeless.
The resolution passed on a 5-4 council vote, meaning only one of those four nays would have to change their vote to overturn Mayor Mueller's veto.