Community group fundraising to buy controversial South Bend home

The South Bend Common Council's vote Monday made it final.

The Women's Care Center will not be opening on Lincoln Way West.

Now rumors are circulating about what will happen with the property.

The home at 3527 Lincoln Way West has been at the center of controversy for weeks.

A clinic providing abortion services is hoping to open next door.

That's why the city ruled a Women's Care Center can not open at 3527.

The Far Northwest Neighborhood Association is fundraising to buy the home from the Women's Care Center.

"We're looking to get this house and to make this house actually the community members' home," said community organizer Jasmine Brown. "In that it would either be a community center. It has the possibility of going back to a community member that may need a place to live for possible rent. We would use those funds to either put somebody else in a house or to advance our community a little further."

On the fundraiser's website, it mentions a fear of the building being sold to what is called an "aggressive" right-to-life organization.

There have been reports that the Apostolate of Divine Mercy in Service of Life, Marriage and the Family is interested in buying the house.

Apostolate of Divine Mercy Director Shawn Sullivan says the reports are distorted.

The group does have a history of opening next to abortion clinics in South Bend.

However, Sullivan said his group does not protest. People would only approach women entering the abortion clinic to offer other services.

"We didn’t want any kind of protesting or other kind of distraction to prevent the mothers going into the abortion clinic from hearing that and receiving that information," said Sullivan.

Sullivan also said his group never participated in a bidding war for the Lincoln Way West property as other reports suggest.

In October 2017, Sullivan did have a purchase agreement for the 3527 Lincoln Way West home.

Sullivan said his church advised him to let the Women's Care Center purchase the home instead.

“I handed the deal off to the Women’s Care Center and have had nothing to do with it since then," said Sullivan.

Father Glen Kohrman with Holy Family Catholic Parish confirmed Sullivan's account of the purchase.

Kohrman said the church suggested that Sullivan hand off the property to the Women's Care Center.

Sullivan said his organization no longer has plans to purchase the property.

Right now, he is focused on filing a legal brief to the state so that the abortion clinic's appeal for a license will be denied.

Community organizer Jasmine Brown says for her the future of the house has nothing to do with pro-life versus pro-choice.

She sees the house as a way to turn the whole ordeal into an opportunity.

"We are excited not so much about the controversy that's going on between the two organizations, but the possibility that we have the chance to benefit from the situation," said Brown.

A spokesperson for the Women's Care Center said the board will be meeting over the next few weeks to decide what to do with the 3527 Lincoln Way West property.

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