Homeless in Bloomington: Mayor Kruzan responds to “the crackdown”


Mayor: Focus on low-barrier shelter harms city, homeless

Kruzan says advocates’ promotion of Fourth Street garage as shelter, other concerns led to crackdown

May 8, 2013

by Jon Blau and Laura Lane



Advocates for a low-barrier summer shelter joined a group of about 30 homeless people in the Fourth Street garage, nicknamed Garage Art, for three nights prior to police action that cleared the location Monday night. Five protesters, who lay on the floor of the garage in sleeping bags, were arrested by Bloomington police on preliminary charges of trespassing when they refused to move.

The city initially offered the group leeway, Kruzan said, because there was an expectation the garage would serve as a temporary sleeping site for homeless people. The tipping point for Kruzan came when group members began publicizing the use of the garage. Posts to Occupy Bloomington’s Facebook page advertised the city’s parking facility as the “Dream Garage,” and “homeless allies” offered movies, pizzas and popcorn to those who gathered there.

Monday morning, the city began getting increased complaints about conditions in the garage, including open containers of alcohol, individuals who were intoxicated and public urination.

Charis Heisey, one of the advocates arrested Monday, held up prior inaction by the police department as a victory.

“The cops came and left and stayed gone — yes, we WON and held the space,” Heisey wrote Saturday. “This is formerly unprecedented in Bloomington, and daresay it’s rare in the United States generally.”

Kruzan said organizers of the sheltering effort, in their attempts to pressure the city on a low-barrier option, have minimized attention to the city’s financial support for places such as Martha’s House, a shelter that does not allow clients to use drugs or alcohol. The city has resisted the idea of supplying resources to a so-called low-barrier shelter because of fears it could draw more homeless individuals who would not utilize services with rules.

“This kind of no-expectation shelter being sanctioned by this group harms the nature of the community, the businesses of downtown merchants, and, ultimately, the very people who are using these no-expectation shelters,” Kruzan said.

A.K. again: Well, I guess I’m part of the problem, since I helped “promote” the news about the garage shelter.

And part of me agrees with Kruzan. The part that really does still assume that every individual has free will, no matter how sunk into addiction, or even mental illness — and that at some point in this life or the next each of us wakes up and takes charge of our own destiny.

However, a comment by one of those who responded online to today’s H-T story, has this to say, swinging me once again, back the other way.

“Again, to so many on this thread, there are people using Interfaith shelters whom you see. But you don’t classify them as homeless in your mind, because their behaviors are appropriate and they’ve found a way to get a shower or sink bath. They could be waiting on you in a store or restaurant. Or sitting near you in the library while you look over at that “homeless” person a little further away. And you put them down every time you touch the keyboard, because you have not bothered to get to know them, to see the huge effort they put into daily life.

“I talked for a while with such a woman the other day. She’s well aware of all the stereotypes flying around Bloomington, how everyone holding those views has no idea they’re walking past someone who doesn’t know if she’ll sleep on a garage roof or in a tent next week. She’s well aware that many don’t want her to have a better shelter, that it’s inconvenient to their set of “facts.” She doesn’t seem to blame anyone, including herself. Fancy that, looking toward solutions instead of blame and simplistic assumptions.

“Is she supposed to get up in front of City Council and explain what everyone can easily know? Why do we have so many experts on the Interfaith shelters who have never been there for even two hours, have never met this woman or the others who would shake up their views? In no way do I want to deflect attention from the problematic street people in Bloomington, as they present problems that must be addressed. But why pretend this whole thing would be solved if they went away tomorrow? Clearly, given the nature of the comments, you all know better.”

AK: There is (the Mayor’s) multi-faceted Truth, and there the Compassion shown in this comment. Somehow we must absorb both Truth and Compassion and expand our minds and hearts enough to work with this situation creatively. Addicted and mentally ill folks will always be among us, and most likely their numbers increase, especially as the end-game of predatory capitalism continues to grind further down all but the 1%. Most of these human beings don’t have any regular place to lay their heads. Why? Many of them are not “civil” and not “safe.” There is no way, for example, that I would take a seriously addicted or mentally ill person into my home.

I wonder: how do aboriginal cultures work with those who are not civil or safe among them? Exile is one solution. But exile won’t work where there’s no where left to roam.

Note: This post is archived on the page Homeless in Bloomington.

This entry was posted in 2013, local action, new economy, Reality Ramp-Up, unity consciousness, waking up, wild new ideas, zone zero zero. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Homeless in Bloomington: Mayor Kruzan responds to “the crackdown”

  1. I’ve been interested in your posts about the lack of low-barrier shelters available for the homeless in Bloomington, since I myself have faced similar dilemmas in my own personal experience. I have been there and done that—homeless, addicted, mentally ill, and seeking shelter—more than once. I fully appreciate the ultimate whatever-it-is that one becomes conscious of when experiencing truly unconditional love…joy, surrender, gratitude, bliss, grace… all that stuff. Yes, even homeless addicted mentally ill human beings can experience it, even for themselves. Who is not, in some ways at some times after all, addicted to something, mentally imperfect, or rebellious about rules and conditional compassion?
    The religious indoctrinations, judgemental implications and insinuations of much conditional “assistance”, even the ‘tough love’ varieties, fly in the face of unconditionally experiencing love, freedom principles, absence of fear, presence of respect and trust—things I spiritually die for, only to discover that paradoxically, it rebirths me.

  2. grandpatom says:

    Adding to my earlier comment: I sorta dodged the question of “how do aboriginal cultures work with those who are not civil or safe among them?” ….since I’m probably not qualified as an aboriginal, lol, no matter how truly aboriginal it might have felt to be currently homeless, addicted, and mentally ill… the ones who are there now are the real experts on it, and I’m more than 5 years clean into safe and civil, wink, smile from my personal rehabilitation center—my rented studio apartment in a very diverse thriving neighborhood. I may still be crazy however, because I hardly ever lock my doors (home, car, tool shed)… my vehicle was recently riffled through at night, but as far as I could tell, not a thing was missing—and the Trooper was crammed full of construction and landscaping tools… the riffling was through the jammed pockets of my doors, glove box, and console… now I leave an extra pack of cigarettes in there all the time.
    As a formerly qualified and bona fide vagrant or whatever this class of the homeless could be labeled, lol, my current loving statement to those personally affected: When you tire of the humor and ironies of life when it comes to shelter, get more creative than those who are finding it for you, and just GO! Find Your Own, It’s Out There Somewhere, and you have the power to prove it. You are not alone either.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *