By: Diane Benjamin
According to a report by WMDB TV, there are around 250 homeless people in Bloomington-Normal.
See their report here: http://www.centralillinoisproud.com/news/local-news/homeless-in-central-illinois/856395912
Safe Harbor and Home Sweet Home Mission are the only two emergency shelters in town, according to the story. Both are constantly at full or almost full capacity.
Bloomington raised the Sales Tax 1% in 2015. A 1/4% was earmarked for mental health services.
This is what Bloomington is sending to the County per month: http://www.cityblm.org/Home/ShowDocument?id=14998
Normal also raised the Sales Tax 1%. 1/4% of their increase was earmarked for mental health. Normal estimated that would amount to $1.5 million a year.
Bloomington is paying around $2.29 million a year, Normal $1.5 million = $3,790,000 total.
The WMDB story quotes the PATH Director, Lori Kimbrough,: “Usually folks who are out on our streets … have a mental health concern or a substance abuse issue. Generally, they’re not going to be harmful to anyone except for unfortunately themselves.”
We don’t know where the money from Bloomington and Normal is being spent. The County minutes for their Behavior Health Committee are sketchy and sporadic. See them here: http://www.mcleancountyil.gov/index.aspx?nid=939
The minutes show talk of applying for grants and hiring people. Unfortunately it sounds a lot like Connect Transit where massive spending is promoted as solving a problem it doesn’t solve. It’s easy to spend other people’s money and come back for more when necessary.
Meanwhile, the Downtown Task force wants to “address” the homeless issue. PDF page 16: http://www.cityblm.org/home/showdocument?id=14918
What does “address” mean?
If the homeless problem exists at least partially because of mental health issues, are any County programs addressing it? Whatever happened to the “tiny house” concept? This obviously needs more investigation.
Links to the stories about the 1% sales tax increase in both cities, half of Bloomington’s increase was to close a “structural deficit”. Funny how it’s already back.