Residents of a homeless camp on the south side of Bloomington were evicted over the weekend just days before the Bloomington mayoral and city council primary.
A person outside the camp told the Bloomingtonian that they had been given until 8 a.m. Saturday, April 29, 2023, to be out of the camp, or be arrested for trespassing. No police had shown up by 4 p.m. Saturday.
The Bloomingtonian visited the camp Saturday and found it vacant.
The camp was occupied on and off for several years as the City of Bloomington’s policies pushed unhoused citizens further from downtown, and further from services.
Several camps in the city limits or in unincorporated parts of Bloomington were razed since 2019. Then, vegetation was cut down to the ground, and there is nothing left to hide a camp.
In 2020 a camp at Seminary Park was emptied by police in the middle of the night, and then when residents moved back, emptied again. Members of the Bloomington City Council voted that it would be illegal for anybody experiencing homelessness to camp overnight on any city-owned property. Police stop by Seminary Park every night at 11 p.m. to make the sure park is empty. Private security patrols Switchyard Park, and anyone still there at 11 p.m. is asked to leave …
(Since around 2020 even basketball players using the courts and skateboarders using the skate park when temperatures have finally cooled in the summer are told to leave Switchyard. However, the park was the site of unannounced Special Forces military training well after 11 p.m. a couple of years ago, which shook the city with helicopter noise, and explosions).
During the pandemic, water was shut off to water fountains in Switchyard, and some residents of homeless camps began drinking water from streams and ponds. An unhoused person told the Bloomingtonian about boiling water to drink, as a camp on the B-Line trail was being evicted in 2021. However, a worker from a local food bank told The Bloomington that unhoused people had been requesting bottled water, and some had been sick with dysentery, an illness more often seen in developing nations since the invention of modern medicine.
Just hours after residents of the Seminary Camp were moved to a location in 2020 on county property near Catalent, the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office also raided that camp, and told the residents if they didn’t leave, they’d be arrested. Many walked out of the camp with only what they could carry.
For the past several years, dozens of city residents who are either unhoused, or have experienced homelessness have died. Increasing numbers have died while living on the streets of Bloomington.
First, the unhoused were kicked out of Peoples Park, then a camp on Kirkwood was evicted. Signs went up over five years ago on Kirkwood telling people not to give money to panhandlers, but to one of the local agencies assigned with solving homelessness.
During a recent mayoral forum organized by Heading Home, Democratic mayoral candidates discussed ideas to solve the crisis.
Here is the video of the forum:
Gallery with more photos: