Homeless in Bloomington: Press release re: garage sleep-in

Charis Heisey's current profile pic on fb . . .

Charis Heisey’s current profile pic on fb . . .

Note: This post archived on new page Homeless in Bloomington.

Pointing out what has been a sore point for alternative transportation activists in Bloomington, this just released Press Release notes that the city is pushing for yet another parking garage, despite the underutilization of all of them. See this B-TOP (Bloomington Transportation Options for People) pdf:

Downtown Parking Data 2006-2011

Homelessness is intertwined with the continuing predominance of car culture. The advent of car culture drove us, like lemmings, into the suburbs with larger and larger homes on bigger and bigger lots, creating more and more sheer space between us. Plus, the more we drive around in our steel skins the less time we live in face-to-face relationship with each other. Much of homelessness translates to people having no safety net of close friends or family willing to take them in during an extended emergency.

This reminds me of a story I read today in the local paper: of a four-month-old baby brought into the ER with extreme head trauma consistent with shaken-baby syndrome. Instead of putting the child and her very young parents in an ambulence for Riley’s Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis (50 miles away), the doctor told them to get their own transportation there. As I read through the story, I realized that the family was homeless. How? When the baby didn’t arrive in good time at the Indy hospital the police here went looking for them, finally found them, and sent the baby by ambulance to Riley. Their homelessness was only barely mentioned, and yet, I would think, it is central to the story. Plus, they had no car, and hadn’t found a ride.

On the other hand, homelessness is often linked to living in one’s car. Several times a week, on my walks around town, I pass by empty parked cars full of stuff that look like they are being lived in.

Here’s the press release:

May 5th, 2013
Karissa McKelvey

As Kruzan pushes for fourth parking garage, current underutilized garage used as homeless shelter

On Saturday, as many as 25 people fell asleep on the cold hard floor
of a Bloomington parking garage, as a small group of so-called
“allies” showed Fight Club on a projector. Since April 15th, 2013, the
city has been without a low-barrier shelter option for the first time
in 3 years.

“What I’m calling the Dream Garage is being held at nighttime as a
temporary emergency shelter for people experiencing homelessness,”
said Charis Heisey, an organizer for emergency shelter initiatives.
“We’re using the top covered floor, which puts a roof over people’s
heads who have nowhere else to go. It’s not glamorous, but it’s a safe
place to sleep.”

The “Dream Garage,” named by the city as “Garage Art,” is managed by
Indianapolis based private company REI and costs the city almost $1
million per year to maintain. Located on 4th and Walnut streets, the
garage kept an average capacity of 45 percent from September to
mid-November of last year. According to the Herald Times, Mayor Mark
Kruzan is planning to build another parking garage.

“City of Bloomington Parking Garages have been severely underutilized
and losing money,” said Nicole Johnson, who has been helping with the
initiative. “We’ve found a way to utilize them that requires very few
resources, while minimizing use of police and healthcare resources to
support the homeless community. Police have said that as long as we’re
respectful, we can stay in the garage at night.”

After the closing of the Interfaith Winter Shelter and Genesis Summer
Shelter, at least 60 individuals have been left without a place to
sleep. About fifteen shelter-seekers and volunteers first slept in the
garage on Friday May 3rd to keep dry during a rainstorm. That number
doubled to thirty on Saturday May 4th and is expected to continue

“We’ve been having food and projected movies, which adds some comfort
to this otherwise very bare space,” said Heisey.”With less than half
of the garage space being utilized by cars, the shelter doesn’t
prevent the garage from its normal daily use.”

Volunteers have offered food, blankets, and movies and have cleaned up
the parking garage in the mornings. Organizers have been soliciting
donations and volunteers through twitter handle @HomelessInBtown


A.K. again: Earlier today Charis sent me a google doc listing their current needs:


Unfortunately, I somehow accidentally changed the name of this doc which seems to have erased it!? (Not that familiar with how to navigate google docs . . .)

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1 Response to Homeless in Bloomington: Press release re: garage sleep-in

  1. rose day says:

    Homelessness is a prevailing concern in the south due in large part to the mild climate which is a major draw. To say that the issue is multi-faceted is the understatement of the century and the matter requires phenomenal discernment as the particulars cut straight to the heart.

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