Bloomington’s Genesis House shelter did not open as usual this week, leaving many homeless people without a place to go.
Two shelters in the city operate on a seasonal basis. Interfaith Winter Shelter, operated by four churches, helps the homeless make it through Indiana winters, and Genesis House, which served as the summer shelter. That is until yesterday.
Interfaith Winter Shelter closed Sunday night, but Genesis House did not open Monday. In fact, Genesis House closed its doors last October because a lack of volunteers and resources.
While conditions are not as life-threatening during the summer months, it can still be a tough season to survive without shelter.
“You have heat exhaustion, sun stroke, dehydration, so Genesis covered that nitch,” says David Parsons who does not have a permanent home.
He says while having a place to escape the elements helps, being homeless is mainly about finding a place to sleep.
“If you’re deprived of sleep, whether it be being spot lighted and woke up and moved about or a noisy neighbor it’s the same thing. You’ll undergo stress,” he says.
Kurt Buehler is a board member of Genesis Church, which ran the summer shelter. He says his small congregation simply ran out of man power to continue operating the shelter. They also lost access to significant grant funding and have been bleeding money the past three years.
“We, to be honest with you we, depleted our savings over that time frame also, which is something we were more than willing to do because we knew that there was a need,” Beuhler says.
So now a group of social workers, students and community members are coming together to form a proposal for a new community-based summer shelter.
Samantha Harrell was a volunteer at Genesis house, and is now spearheading the effort. She is optimistic about securing resources and volunteers, but says the group is still looking for a location.
“We have the materials, and we would get the little funding we would need,” Harrell says. “We literally are just asking for the space, and we know that’s not an easy thing to ask but we’ve been working really hard and we think we’re offering a lot to anyone who would donate a space temporarily for six months, to meet this need.”
The new center would also work to find long-term housing for the so called “chronically homeless.” As for David Parsons, he is gathering materials to camp somewhere in town. He is not sure where.