Homeless In Bloomington

Public Domain / Google Images

Instead of letting old plastic shopping bags clog our landfill or flutter around on the whims of the wind, one local group is upcycling them to help folks in need.

MCCA

Editors Note: During our interview series Stretched Thin, we reported on the impact of the state budget impasse on local social service agencies   That was in spring of 2016. There's still no budget. In our new series Stretched Thinner, we check back in with those social social service agencies.  

Mid Central Community Action in Bloomington is keeping its head above water as it tries to deliver services to the homeless, to those escaping and recovering from domestic violence, and to those who are trying to stabilize their lives.

Bill Waller / Facebook

Tar on a bench and a spate of calls to police complaining about homeless people near businesses in downtown Bloomington last summer focused attention on the issue.

Not a lot has happened publicly since then, but Downtown Bloomington Association Director Tricia Stiller says there has ben an effort to communicate on the issue among stakeholder.

Judith Valente

McLean County offers a variety of services to help the homeless find medical care, recovery services, jobs and housing. But the county's two main shelters cannot accommodate everyone. Certain restrictions apply as to who can stay at the shelters, and sometimes both facilities are full.

A new shelter is getting started in downtown Bloomington. It aims to become a one-stop center serving the most difficult cases. The Abundant Life In Christ Church offers food, shelter, showers, clothing, help finding jobs -- and spiritual sustenance. 

Bill Waller / Facebook

Bloomington Police Chief Brendan Heffner says his officers have the difficult task of striking a balance between protecting the rights of homeless people while still responding to business owners’ complaints.

“When they see homeless people down there, they think it doesn’t look good and they call," Heffner told WGLT. "We remind them that unless they are breaking the law, there’s nothing that we can do. They can ask somebody for money and as long as they’re not jumping in front of a person and being intimidating, which would be disorderly conduct, generally we don’t have a problem.”

Judith Valente

The recent case of vandalism to a bench frequented by homeless people in downtown Bloomington has reopened a community conversation about gaps in services for the chronically homeless.

Some downtown business owners have stepped up their complaints, while some homeless people say they are unfairly singled out by police. Bloomington police, business owners and advocates for the homeless will meet this evening to discuss what some see as a simmering problem.