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South Bend Mayor outlines new plan to help homeless permanently

SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The City of South Bend scrapped plans for a gateway center, which was first proposed in 2017, in order to quickly move the city’s homeless into permanent housing. 

“The biggest thing we need is more beds and more homes for people to be in,” said South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg. “If you build a gateway center but there’s not enough permanent housing for it to be a gateway to, it just becomes another shelter that’s not as good as the permanent shelters we have.”

The city set aside $1.5 million for the gateway center, but now that money along with $2.3 million from state and federal governments will be put toward permanent supportive housing. 

“Its a mix of the ability to directly new construction and vouchers that allow to use scattered site housing,” said Mayor Buttigieg. 

According to the city, 109 people are currently living unsheltered in South Bend. With the nearly $4 million from federal, state, and city funds, 31 people would be left homeless. 

Without this new funding, the number is tripled. Regardless, space needs to be made but the community has concerns. 

“I was very happy to hear about what they plan on doing but yet there are still a lot of unanswered questions,” said Clara Ross. 

Jessica Pison said she and her neighbors near a proposed permanent supportive housing facility on West Washington Street have not been brought to the table to make a final decision on the facility’s opening as partners. 

ABC 57 News reported in July about neighbors on the Near West Side of South Bend being concerned with the proposed facility designed specifically for the chronically homeless. It facility has been described as similar to the Oliver Apartments, which in the first 10 months its opening, police were called nearly 160 times.

Neighbors like Jessica Pison wants to know why her neighborhood was selected. 

“We just haven’t got an answer on how this won’t negatively impact our neighborhood,” said Pison. 

Mayor Buttigieg said the plan is not to concentrate all of the permanent housing sites in one neighborhood, but he said it will be a community challenge to find a place for the people left out. 

“It’s getting that additional piece that 31 that represent perhaps the biggest leap forward the history of the city,” he said. 

On Monday, the Mayor also announced that the location for this year’s weather amnesty program would be the former Salvation Army building on South Main Street. The city bought the building a month ago for nearly $300,000. 

Mayor Buttigieg said the weather amnesty site will be good to go for the start of the program on November 1. 

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