Evidence of the national recession is becoming apparent in Bloomington’s Perry Township. Dan Combs, township trustee, said his office, which handles relief for the poor, has seen an increase in requests for assistance.
“We don’t see an actual increase in the number of people on the street as people who are gonna be on the street and that really is substantial in the last year and a half,” Combs said.
Combs said it is difficult to estimate the number of homeless in a community. He said up to 90 percent of homeless people never live in shelters or on the street and are thus not recorded. Many, he said, move in with friends, sleep on couches or squat in abandoned properties.
“What ripples down, if 90 percent of the people never really become visible that have no homes, you only see a slight increase of people on the streets. What we’re seeing at the township is not an increase of people with no homes but a true increase in the number of people in very dire financial straits,” he said.
According to Combs, some areas of assistance are the worst he has ever seen. Combs said he has seen the need for the poor’s relief change significantly since he started as a township trustee more than 20 years ago.
“A request for rent and utilities to get someone through a month would be $300. If you saw a $500 request, that would really be something. Standard now [is that when] someone comes in our door, the average is about $1,000, just to stabilize them for a month,” he said.