Debra Bradley, director of the City of St. Joseph Health Department, presented the Urban Mission Project to members of the public –- many of whom who live in the surrounding neighborhood, and the St. Joseph City Council.
If approved by the council at its next meeting in two weeks, the health department would be become the project administrator and Bradley said that would garner regular updates to the public.
“We will meet with the agencies on a regular basis, we will work to identify goals for the agencies and the tracking of those goals,” Bradley said. “We also will be responsible for sharing that information on a regular basis.”
The Urban Mission Collaboration is a plan to combat homelessness by doubling down on the efforts that began at the Crossing Ministry Outreach located on Eighth Street, south of Downtown, a little over a year ago.
Ronald Allen owns property at 729 S. Ninth St. He believes in helping people, but he also believes some in the area are “professional homeless” who take advantage of the services and target the neighborhood for theft.
“I had an agreement with a contractor for $10,000 to put metal siding on my building until he found out where it was,” Allen said. “The contractor laughed at me, because you can’t put $10,000 worth of metal out on a pallet and expect it to last two or three days until they get it put up.”
As many as two off-duty St. Joseph Police officers will be working in the area during the warmer seasons of the year. Police Chief Chris Connally answered a St. Joseph City Council question about performing background checks on the homeless who enter the Crossing.
“For us, we can’t just go there and run wants and warrants on everyone that goes there … we could be charged for that, criminally,” Connally said. “It cost money, but they can require them to go and bring them a background check — you go to the Highway Patrol, you pay a certain amount of money and bring that back.”
Pivotal Point Transitional Housing also will be a part of the collaborative effort with Community Action Partnership. Beginning Oct. 1, some of those agencies will combine some of their record keeping on individuals, so they can better communicate with one another.
The Urban Mission Project is a pilot program financed by Mosaic Life Care over the course of three years. The hospital plans to invest between $800,000 and $900,000, annually.
One property owner asked whether the city planned to compensate businesses in the area that may not see a return on their investment. Mayor Bill McMurray said he and City Manager Bruce Woody had patronized a restaurant in the area, but said there are no plans to spend public funds to compensate business owners at this time.