ELKHART — Some members of the Elkhart City Council said they are concerned about the number of homeless people in Elkhart and a new program that transports Goshen homeless people to an Elkhart shelter.
City Councilman Brian Thomas, R-2, said he met two homeless men that were “encamped” under the East Jackson Boulevard Bridge over the Elkhart River on Friday.
When Thomas returned Monday evening, there were four, he said.
“We’re in current discussions with the Mayor’s Office and the Police Department to take care of this, I guess as humanely as possible,” Thomas said at the Monday night City Council meeting.
Kevin Bullard, R-at large, specifically expressed concern with a plan to bus homeless persons from Goshen to Faith Mission in Elkhart, where they have been offered shelter for at least 30 days.
The City of Goshen is making up to 50 homeless people move from public property by the Goshen Millrace.
“I was kind of surprised when I heard on the news that Goshen was removing their encampment, and they were going to bus them to Elkhart,” Bullard said.
He said that makes it seem like Elkhart must be doing a pretty good job combating homelessness.
The bus program, which will take those with a base in Goshen back there every day during the amnesty program, is offered by Faith Mission and Goshen Interfaith Hospitality Network.
Bullard asked Elkhart Mayor Tim Neese if he had been involved in the decision on transportation.
“No, I had no discussion with anyone from the City of Goshen,” said Neese.
Bullard was concerned that some who are bussed to Elkhart will decide to stay, perhaps joining those under the Jackson Boulevard bridge that Thomas had mentioned, he said.
“Some people just like being homeless and not in a controlled environment,” Bullard said.
Mary Olson, R-at large, pointed out that there are often homeless people living under a large tree in the 200 block of North Main Street.
“I’ve (heard) comments about (Goshen Mayor Jeremy) Stutsman bussing a needy portion of their population to come visit us, so may that might be a conversation that needs to be had,” Olson said.
“I’ll look into it,” said Neese.
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