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Activists Worry More Homeless Will Be On Bloomington Streets

Bloomington's Interfaith Winter Shelter plans to close Tuesday, worrying activists that more than 60 people might be sleeping on the streets.

A group called the Safe Sleeping Coalition is seeking to extend the Interfaith Winter Shelter to prevent more residents from sleeping on the streets.

Photo: flickr: Brian Talbot

A group called the Safe Sleeping Coalition is seeking to extend the Interfaith Winter Shelter to prevent more residents from sleeping on the streets.

On Monday night, around 60 homeless people in Bloomington will sleep at a church. They’ll have clean pillows and blankets handed to them by volunteers from the Interfaith Winter Shelter.

Tuesday, that might not be an option.

Activists like Laura LaSuertmer, a member of the Catholic Worker Movement aimed at reducing violence and poverty, are now rallying to extend the Interfaith Winter Shelter program, which is scheduled to end Tuesday, April 1.

LaSuertmer says activists are primarily concerned with the safety of the homeless, though she says there are many more reasons to keep the shelter open.

“People seem more afraid of people who have to sleep outside. Or, they get harassed by the police or are more stigmatized so I just hope our community can come together to provide a safe place for people to sleep year-round,” she says.

While Bloomington has other shelters, such as Martha’s House and Backstreet Missions, they have certain barriers to entry like being a resident of the county. Some only allow occupants to use their services for 90 days.

“For most people that’s not enough time to save up enough money or find work and save up enough money and find an apartment to move themselves out of homelessness,” LeSuertmer says.

The group of activists, known as the Safe Sleeping Coalition of Bloomington, will hold a demonstration in People’s Park on Tuesday at 5 p.m.

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