Kelley: Homelessness 'Not Going Away'

"There are so many issues at play here. It's cold and miserable outside. Nobody should be living outside. Addiction is a horrible thing. We have no good treatment options (for people without money) should someone decide to seek treatment. 

Everyone in the community should be safe and have the opportunity to feel that they belong. We should care about other people...even if they are different. 

And last, sometimes there isn't a villain. 

My heart is broken because I can't fix this. Grown men are afraid and I can't take that away. 

We have to get around these issues in our community. It's not going to go away. 

What say you?"

Rev. Kelley Becker

Bloomington First Christian Church

On recent police-enforced evictions from the Bloomington homeless tent city

Becker, a Not In Our Town: Bloomington/Normal participant and homeless advocate, visited the “tent city” and met with the McLean County sheriff and deputies, representatives of the community group PATH, and Carl Thomas, the owner of private property behind the former Bloomington bus station near West Market Street where 14 homeless men had been camping.

Encampment dwellers have been put on notice that they need to relocate by Monday or face trespassing charges. Police and social service workers were working to avoid that outcome, and Becker did media interviews to raise community awareness of the problem.

Thomas, the owner of the 5.8-acre plot, said Wednesday he had concerns about property damage liability issues related to the unauthorized "tent city." He has dealt with summer encampments during the past several years, and reported finding homeless people staying in cars at his auto body shop on nearby Peggy Lane.

He became aware of the current cluster of tents after recent Pantagraph coverage of the issue.

Becker plans to discuss the issue further during the March 13 morning Coffee With a Cop at the McDonald's at 525 Brock Drive (see article below), near the camp site.

"Yes, I am going to coffee with a cop," she said. "I hope some of the people living outside do, too."