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Homelessness, Economy, and Community

Evidence of the national recession is becoming apparent in Bloomington’s Perry Township. Township Trustee Dan Combs says his office, which is responsible for poor relief, 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 says it’s difficult to estimate the number of homeless in a community. He says up to 90 percent of homeless people never live in shelters or on the street and are thus not recorded. He says many 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.

He says some areas of assistance are the worst he’s ever seen. Combs says he’s seen the need for poor 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 dollars, if you saw a 500 dollar request that would really be something. Standard now, someone comes in our door, the average is about 1000 dollars just to stabilize them for a month,” he said.

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