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South Bend homeless voice eviction concerns

South Bend homeless voice eviction concerns. // WSBT 22 Photo

A group of homeless citizens in South Bend voiced their concerns Monday.

They spoke out at the city's Common Council meeting. The conflict stems from the city's recent removal of an encampment, specifically, the one under the South Main Street railroad bridge.

Homeless advocates say this area is fair game to live, but city leaders are continuing to discourage camping there and say there are better options for the homeless in South Bend.

Toward the top of the agenda, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg addressed the issue of homelessness. His comments came after speaking with the homeless at the encampment Monday.

He says people are unwilling to get help at available places for one reason or another. Buttigieg says the encampment is not sustainable and not a healthy place for the homeless to live. He says it breeds disease, violence, abuse and victimization.

In response, at least 10 homeless advocates stepped up to the microphone to get their voices heard at the end of the meeting Monday. Supporters were donning a red ribbon, showing unity.

Signs at the meeting read "A bed for every homeless person" in capital letters. This is a goal that the mayor and homeless advocates seem to agree on.

"So we are trying to do as an administration, compassion, law and most importantly safety for everybody," said Buttigieg.

"The problem currently now is that there are not sufficient places for everyone," said John Shafer of the Michiana Five for the Homeless.

The Center for the Homeless and Life Treatment Center have begun their winter amnesty. More sleeping areas became available as of November 1 in South Bend.

On December 1, a city-backed amnesty center will open near Hope Ministries. Down the line, the Fuse Center is expected to add 30 beds as a more permanent solution.

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