Elkhart Council members voice concern with Goshen homeless issue

Truth file photo Elkhart City Council members are concerned with the number of homeless in the city and a new program giving Goshen homeless free transportation to a shelter in Elkhart. 

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. 

Follow Rasmus S. Jorgensen on Twitter @ReadRasmus

(9) comments

ConcernedCitizen

Is there a reason you won't post any comment I make? I am not aware that I am violating any of your rules.

Joden

The comment by the council members and in the comments are deplorable. These are not wild animals invading our city. These are people. Being homeless is hard and it’s sad. I think that the majority of these people have been let down by society in a number of ways from a young age. Obviously the lack of mental health care in Elkhart county, especially for teens and young adults contributes to this problem. Nobody enters this world with the hopes and dreams of growing up to be homeless. It’s an unfortunate circumstance regardless of cause and it isn’t an easy life. As for it being a choice or series of bad choices- we all make bad choices. One of those is to judge others who are homeless. Be part of the solution not part of the problem. People who whine about tax dollars for social services definitely never look at the city budget.

n9wox

This issue shouldn't be about Elkhart vs Goshen. Elkhart has Faith Mission which is supported by people both within and outside of the City of Elkhart, and Goshen has GIHN which is supported by people both within and outside of Goshen. There is no Elkhart city residency requirement for Faith Mission clients, and likewise for GIHN, no Goshen city residency requirement for GIHN clients. Last time I checked, people are free to travel between Elkhart & Goshen without government interference.

correction

Being homeless revolves around many bad choices. Its not the cities/gov problem to hold their hand. You work to live, this is America.

sparkielee

Sometimes a person does make bad choices resulting in him or her becoming homeless-and they need to be addressed. But sometimes a person is doing the best he or she can and becomes homeless anyway. Sometimes the government makes bad decisions that result in middle or lower class people becoming homeless. And sometimes it's businesses, such as the developers of the housing for the wealthy, that contribute to it.
I grieve for the disappearing middle class.

ZackS

It's a little late for the city to start worrying about homeless. Though the homeless being bussed here from Goshen is unfortunate in that Goshen is a large enough town that they should have a shelter. Elkhart has had a growing homeless population for sometime. And though faith mission helps some of the homeless I know of cases where there hasbeen discrimination due to religious diferrences. I do applaud fath mission for the help they do offer but this city can certainly do more to help those in need.
Expecting a private charity to house all of our homeless off of donations is cringeworthy especially when said organization bases its willingness to help on whether some one will attend church services. Even with out the religious string Faith Mission is not large enough to house the homeless population. Its time our so called city leaders went about building a sustainsble shelter and assistance program. Yes I understand some are truely homeless by choice and their own actions but for the welfare of the city every possible step should be made to eradicate the issue in our city. Who knows when it will be a friend,a neighbor or a relative that no longer has a roof over their head.

sparkielee

I read that the Faith Mission takes prayer books and rosaries belonging to Catholic residents and throws them away. I used to be Catholic and would have prayed that they never found my rosary. I do remember the Hope required attendance at chapel services 7 nights a week for all residents when I was there and 3 Bible studies a week. If you stay long enough you were able to go to just 4 services and 2 can be at the Hope-and 2 can be at your home church.
I was talking with a man who had just moved into the Hope and told me he was an atheist. I saw him at a service and he was walking up and down the aisle. I loved the service-but he must have been very bored.

sparkielee

I have heard good things about the Faith and have even visited them once. I didn't see the whole facility, but I did see a workplace for women to help them get on their feet.
They made different things-even a package or jar with different kinds of dried beans, such as lentils, to make a soup.
I think that while the Faith Mission has helped a lot of people that Goshen ought to have a homeless shelter and more affordable housing.

ConcernedCitizen

I don't think it can be called discrimination. I believe you are able to have meals there without attending church services. It is the FAITH MISSION fun from private donations. They have rules. If you aren't willing to follow them, you can CHOOSE not to.

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