A closer look at the impact of ‘Motels4Now’ program one year later

Published: Aug. 24, 2021 at 6:59 PM EDT
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - The numbers have been crunched. The impact the Motels4Now program has had on St. Joseph County’s homeless population has been gaged.

Last Tuesday marked the one-year anniversary of the program which has attracted a lot of interest. 375 people have taken part and 258 more are on a waiting list.

The average stay of the 375 program participants was 3.3 months.

81 people, or 22 percent were asked to leave for rules violations. 25-percent left on their own. 10-percent moved on to permanent housing with the help of Motels4Now staff.

The program has had its challenges. Seven participants suffered drug overdoses, and one of those was fatal.

Residents have also made 228 calls to police in the past ten months.

As for the physical future of offering help to the homeless—the program is now run by renting the Knights Inn off Lincolnway on South Bend’s west side.

The asking sales price for that building is $1.5 million and with the cost of renovation the price tag could be in the $5 million range.

“It’s still going to have kind of a feeling of you know, some nice rooms in a hot parking lot with a fence around them,” said concerned citizen Mike Keen. Keen and others formed a citizens committee about a year ago that has recommended building a new $6.2 million facility on a two-and-a-half-acre campus with gardening boxes, perhaps a basketball court and a contemplation trail.

“But we need that place to be beautiful. To have a natural setting. We know from research right now that natural setting deceases violence.”

Keen says he believes $1 million in private donations could be raised for the project. " We’ve already talked to some donors.

My wife and I have committed, and we both committed to help raising additional funds.”

Keen believes a campus setting would go a long way in instilling dignity and pride in the program and that it would help attract community volunteers.

The idea made its debut before a committee of the South Bend common council at a meeting on Monday. A similar presentation will be made before members of the St. Joseph County council this evening.

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