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City of Bloomington, Indiana

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Elizabeth Walter, Office of the Mayor, waltere@bloomington.in.gov, 812-349-3406

Mayor Announces New Community Initiatives Addressing Downtown Challenges

Bloomington, Ind. -  Mayor John Hamilton introduced four new initiatives today in the City’s continuing effort to address ongoing challenges in Bloomington’s downtown area. The initiatives include extending Shalom Community Center hours, developing two internet-based resources, designating a Metrics Development Team, and assembling a new Community Coordinating Council.

“We thank the many organizations and individuals who have already rolled up their sleeves and gotten to work on these very difficult and often heartbreaking challenges. This will be a job that will take the good hearts, minds and resources of many in our community, working together, to create successful outcomes,” stated Mayor Hamilton.

Extended Shalom Community Center Hours

The mayor announced a new funding plan that will allow the Shalom Center to extend hours to include weekends. The funding required to pay for the expenses related to longer hours is proposed to be shared equally between the City, Monroe County, and area businesses. The City and County announced their financial commitment today.

Weekend hours at Shalom will provide uninterrupted services for hunger relief, life essentials, crisis casework, street outreach, rapid re-housing opportunities, and overnight shelter at A Friend’s Place. “Homelessness, hunger, addictions and mental illness do not take days off, so it’s important for help to be available seven days a week,” the mayor stated.

The City also will serve the neighboring residential area by increasing police foot patrols to protect the safety, civility and justice of those who reside in the area, and minimize any illegal activity.

Formation of a Metrics Development Team

To help make informed decisions, a Metrics Development Team will share accurate, timely, and useful information to community stakeholders. As the name implies, the team will develop metrics to measure current conditions, effectiveness of programming, activity trends, data on overdoses/drug arrests, homeless counts, and other metrics determined to be pertinent in improving safety, civility, and justice in the community. Good data leads to informed decisions.

Developing Two New Web-Based Resources

A Homeless Services web page embedded in the City of Bloomington website will provide one-click information dedicated to addressing needs specific to community members experiencing homelessness. Links will provide access to services available in the community to assist with housing and related resources. Once the page is live, a public information campaign will inform potential users of the page availability.

Additionally, a stand-alone Safety, Civility and Justice website will be created to connect and inform people, giving the public insight into initiatives designed to make the City more safe, more civil, and more just. The site will connect to the Homeless Services website, help organize community efforts, and feature stories of the people and organizations working on this challenge. With a simple, easy-to-navigate platform, residents can stay informed about policies and efforts related to the issues of opioid and other addictions, homelessness, aggressive panhandling, and children affected by these societal problems.

“Creating a city that is safe, civil and just is a community-wide challenge, and we hope this website will help us organize and provide an easily accessible platform for periodic updates on this community’s efforts to tackle it,” Hamilton commented.

Creating a Community Coordinating Council

By assembling high-level representatives from a diverse set of key stakeholders to work closely together, the City hopes to approach the challenges facing the community in a holistic manner.  Key partners, including Monroe County government, Indiana University, IU Health, Centerstone, the Community Foundation of Bloomington and Monroe County, the business community and other invested partners, will join together to work cohesively and effectively without duplicating efforts.

“This is an evolving situation. The City of Bloomington government cannot and should not try to do this alone. We need, and have, strong partners throughout the community. We need support from the state and national resources as well,” Mayor Hamilton emphasized. “It will be these partnerships and relationships that will, I believe, prove to be our best, and, frankly, our only path to success. We will be flexible. We will try things. Some will work better than others. We will be both proactive and reactive as new challenges arise to improve the community for everyone who lives here.”

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