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After many murders, Bloomington’s new mayor says that combating homelessness is a primary concern

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Bloomington, Indiana – When Mayor Kerry Thomson entered office last week, addressing homelessness was always one of her main goals; but, the issue has gained attention after two recent killings in one of the city’s homeless encampments.

“My goal for our community is to use this tragic incident as as really motivation to have very real conversations about what’s happening with people who are unhoused and what’s happening with gun violence,” Mayor Thomson said.

Tuesday at about 1:45 p.m., the Bloomington Police Department received a call about a possible gunfire in the forested area behind Wheeler Mission.

Officers discovered an adult male with a gunshot wound in the 200 block of S. Westplex Avenue, according to the BPD. 52-year-old Curtis Butler was the victim; he was discovered inside a tent and declared deceased on the spot.

Craig Pearson, 42, was detained by police earlier in December on suspicion of fatally machete-attacking a man in the same campground.

Thomson stated that homelessness is a major concern, and such instances are only one factor in that regard.

“We don’t have to get it perfect right out of the gate,” Thomson said. “But there is no dignity in living in a tent and really there’s no pride in a community that thinks it can do no better.”

She claimed that even though she has only been working there for a little more than a week, the problem has already started to be addressed.

“The mayor seat is the most powerful convener in the community,” Thomson said. “So that’s what I’ve been doing. I’ve been convening the conversations and directing them towards action.”

According to Thomson, the largest obstacle is finding enough physical housing to keep people off the streets. Providing them with long-term mental health therapy is the second component of that, as she claims there hasn’t been any since state mental facilities closed.

“Since the Reagan-era, when we shut down our large state hospitals…there’s simply no place to go if you need long-term care,” Thomson said. “What we’ve done is dismantle the care, flawed as it was, and we’ve left people on the streets.”

She is committed to finding a solution and is not afraid of the challenges that lay ahead. Nonetheless, Thomson holds the belief that homelessness can be solved, as seen by the placard she has up outside her office.

“We need all of the resources that we can get and those are volunteer resources, they’ll be financial resources and we need, first and foremost, the resource of creativity and innovation,” Thomson said.

According to the mayor, Bloomington’s general lack of affordable housing is a problem.

Thomson stated that officers are still investigating the most recent homicide at a homeless camp.

 

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