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Hamilton To Ask Council For "Multi-Million" Chunk Of Rescue Plan For Housing

A photo of Mayor John Hamilton speaking at a press conference on housing insecurity.

(Alex Paul, WFIU/WTIU News)

The City of Bloomington is preparing to roll out its long-term strategy for addressing housing insecurity and homelessness within the next few weeks. 

Local officials hosted a press conference Tuesday afternoon to report on some preliminary plans and provide an update on the progress made by community partners.  

“In recent months, we helped bring a broad coalition around the table to begin addressing the many components of achieving what some may call ‘functional zero’, a milestone indicating a community has measurably ended homelessness,” said Efrat Feferman, executive director of United Way Monroe County. 

READ MORE: Monroe Co. Identifies Third Death Of An Unhoused Person In The Last 3 Weeks 

Feferman said United Way has been working with the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County for the last six months on solutions. She said three different subcommittees were formed to further research the issue and report back to the larger group: 

  1. Data and Dashboard: Gathered numbers and data points for sheltering and individuals experiencing homelessness.
  2. Map and Gap: Reviewed available services and figured out how people can best utilize them.
  3. Promising Practices: Identified holistic best approaches to create more housing.

Also six months ago, people experiencing homelessness and sleeping in tents were removed from Seminary Park for the second time during the winter.  

“We have been incorporating the voices of people with lived experiences to gain a better understanding of how this issue is directly impacting people in our community, listening and learning from all of these perspectives,” said Feferman. 

She said one of the main problems for people experiencing homelessness, or people seeking affordable housing, is that no comprehensive resource shows what housing options are available. 

“There is no centralized list of affordable housing units,” said Feferman. “This is an issue that needs to be addressed to better understand the capacity for housing in our region.” 

Now that the subcommittees have done their research, Feferman said they will take the next several weeks to compile an all-inclusive strategy.   

Mayor John Hamilton said he will be asking city council to distribute millions of dollars in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding for housing solutions.   

“For example, we may look to use these funds to expand voucher programs or support a community land trust or create a landlord risk mitigation fund or other ways to increase accessibility,” said Hamilton.  

The city will be awarded $22 million in ARPA funds, but Hamilton said he’s not ready to put an exact dollar amount on what will go toward housing insecurity yet. 

“Our opportunity needs to balance with other needs. We look forward to hearing more suggestions for specific ideas, more public input,” said Hamilton. “We look forward to continuing to partner with our communities, housing sector and social service agencies who bring their expertise to these challenges. 

ARPA funds must be spent within the next 24 to 34 months, according to guidance from the federal government.  

Hamilton said the city will present a more detailed cost breakdown and mapped-out strategy later this summer, as it will also be part of the 2022 budget process. 

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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