The Bloomingtonian

Story updated with statement from city; Homeless camp demolished Tuesday on land belonging to City of Bloomington Redevelopment Commission

Workers demolish a camp, and remove debris, at a site near the corner of 11th and Rogers, where up to 10 people experiencing homelessness had recently been living, Tuesday, November 26, 2019 in Bloomington, Ind. (Photo by Jeremy Hogan/The Bloomingtonian)

Update with statement from the city; Wednesday, 11:19 a.m:

“The people who were camping on the City-owned land at 11th and Rogers were advised on Wednesday 11/20 that they would need to vacate the premises. In terms of the amount of human waste that had accumulated at the site, the camp had become a public health hazard. Bloomington Police Department Downtown Resource Officers, along with the Department’s Police Social Worker and outreach personnel from Centerstone, made multiple visits to the site to connect the people living there with resources and services to meet their daily needs and suggest options for long term solutions.   The notice posted on 11/20 advised those at the site to remove any belongings they wished to keep, and that anything left behind would be considered as abandoned and discarded. By Monday, no occupants were located at the site, and on Tuesday, the City began working with contractors trained in the removal of hazardous materials to remove items abandoned at the site and human waste.”

Update: The tract of land where the camp was dismantled belongs to the City of Bloomington Redevelopment Commission, according to county records.

November 26, 2019 – Bloomington, Indiana (revised Wednesday)

A crew of workers in hazmat suits, along with equipment operators using equipment with the City of Bloomington logo, dismantled a camp at the corner of 11th and Rogers, Tuesday.

Up to ten people had been living in the camp until last week, when they were given 48 hours to relocate, said Shalom Community Center Exectutive Director Ian Forrest Gilmore. Gilmore added, “Of course, those people didn’t just vanish. They’re now sleeping somewhere else, likely also outside.”

Three workers in suits wearing masks gathered debris and put it into garbage bags, which were then placed into a large dumpster. The Bloomingtonian went to the scene to document the demolition of the camp after being tagged on a post about it on the Facebook page, Bloomington IN What’s Going On. When the Bloomingtonian arrived, workers were still at the location.

The Bloomingtonian stopped by the Shalom Community Center for comment, and was later directed to a response posted online by Gilmore. The full statement, which was quoted above, reads:

“Like so many of you, I’m feeling the pain of this situation and am horrified we do this to people. I have some basic information which I believe is accurate, which I’ll share for what it’s worth. About ten people were staying there. The camp received notice I believe last Wednesday that they had to leave in 48 hours. The land is private property (CORRECTION: County records show the lands belongs to the City of Bloomington Revelopment Commission) but I don’t know who owns it. I believe it was the property owner who bulldozed the area. The police were present but I don’t know their involvement. There were no tents remaining when they bulldozed the area and I was told that no one had been seen at the camp for a couple days. Of course, those people didn’t just vanish. They’re now sleeping somewhere else, likely also outside. Shalom’s street outreach team works with people on the streets every day and can use your support. People continue to need sleeping bags, tarps, tents, backpacks, cold weather clothing, boots, and more. Volunteering and money are also super helpful. You can find out more about what you can do at our website.

www.shalomcommunitycenter.org

Thank you! It’s gratifying to see the vast majority of people on this post expressing compassion for folks struggling with homelessness.”

The City of Bloomington responded Wednesday to a request for comment and sent a statement, “The people who were camping on the City-owned land at 11th and Rogers were advised on Wednesday 11/20 that they would need to vacate the premises. In terms of the amount of human waste that had accumulated at the site, the camp had become a public health hazard. Bloomington Police Department Downtown Resource Officers, along with the Department’s Police Social Worker and outreach personnel from Centerstone, made multiple visits to the site to connect the people living there with resources and services to meet their daily needs and suggest options for long term solutions.  The notice posted on 11/20 advised those at the site to remove any belongings they wished to keep, and that anything left behind would be considered as abandoned and discarded. By Monday, no occupants were located at the site, and on Tuesday, the City began working with contractors trained in the removal of hazardous materials to remove items abandoned at the site and human waste.”

Recently the issue of the lack of affordable housing in Bloomington was discussed before the Bloomington City Council voted on whether or not to allow duplexes, and triplexes to built in core neighborhoods. It was said by at least one commenter that nobody making minimum wage can afford housing in the city.

The demolished camp used by those experiencing homelessness is next to a recently built apartment building.

A man sitting in front of the Shalom Center, Tuesday, said he just got a tent for 70-dollars, which he hopes to live in for the next month, because he’s been homeless about two weeks, and then he began to cry, and said, somebody needs to do a documentary on people experiencing homelessness, and show hard it is. The man said he had not been living in the camp at 11th and Rogers, but wondered where he would safely pitch his new tent tonight.  

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