A proposal by South Bend’s mayor to launch a city-run homeless shelter is drawing scrutiny, including questions about whether the northern Indiana city can afford to operate such a shelter.
Mayor James Mueller proposed such a shelter last week after a homeless tent encampment was moved from a privately owned lot to a city-owned lot. But that relocation will be short-lived because city officials planned to notify people living there to clear out, the South Bend Tribunereported.
Mueller hasn’t developed details of his plans for a city-run shelter but he will attend Tuesday’s meeting of the Common Council to discuss the proposal at the request of council members.
“This is the early planning stages and we aren’t going to have all the answers right now,” said his spokesman, Caleb Bauer.
Council President Tim Scott said he generally agrees that a city-operated shelter would be better than people living in tents, but he has questions about funding it, particularly with city finances shrinking due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Council member Rachel Tomas-Morgan, who teaches issues of global poverty at the University of Notre Dame, said getting the chronically homeless off the streets is a “wicked problem that has innumerable causes, and it’s not an easy one to talk about and to solve.”
But she wants more details before saying whether she would support spending city tax dollars on a shelter.
“This is going to be an expensive venture, in the midst of what our community is suffering economically in light of the coronavirus,” she said. “We know government budgets are going to be eviscerated moving forward.”