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Mayor Hamilton Updates Progress on Downtown Initiatives

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 3, 2016

For more information, please contact:
Mary Catherine Carmichael, Communications Director, carmichm@bloomington.in.gov, 812-349-2489.

Mayor Hamilton Updates Progress on Downtown Initiatives

Bloomington, Ind. - On August 10, 2016, Mayor John Hamilton held a press conference to announce efforts to address downtown safety, civility and justice in light of the aggressive panhandling, vagrancy, illicit drug use and housing insecurity apparent in the Downtown area.

At that time, Mayor Hamilton announced several initiatives to begin to improve downtown safety, civility and justice. Hamilton today shared activities and updates that have taken place since early August.

"By giving to agencies that provide assistance, donors can be part of long-term solutions to the challenges that can lead to panhandling. Our caring and compassionate residents and visitors want to help those in need. I applaud that instinct. Many people who are panhandling suffer from deep poverty brought on by under- or unemployment, homelessness, addictions and under- or untreated mental illness. Everyone deserves the opportunity to live in appropriate housing and access nutritious food, healthcare, or treatment. By donating to service providers instead of an individual, your contribution has a better chance of truly helping," said Mayor Hamilton.

Reverend Forrest Gilmore, the Executive Director of Shalom Community Center, which provides services for many in the community experiencing poverty, commented on the advantages of giving to organizations rather than directly to individuals, "By donating to social service agencies directly, you can be sure that your kindness goes to the things that are most important: food, shelter, housing, employment, health care, and the supports people need to get back on their feet."

Talisha Coppock, Executive Director of Downtown Bloomington Inc. is familiar with the issues related to panhandling and homelessness both in the community and for downtown businesses. She spoke in favor of the new signs and said, "The signs are needed as gentle reminders for our residents, visitors and young students that Bloomington has many ways to support people in need."

"We want everyone to feel safe and welcome in our city, including our downtown public spaces. Panhandling is not illegal. Experiencing homelessness is not illegal. Our parks and streets belong to all and are open to all. Safety, civility and justice are rights for every person in Bloomington. We hope these efforts and those going forward will make our downtown safer and more enjoyable for everyone who chooses to spend time there," concluded Hamilton.

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