JEFFERSONVILLE — The Jeffersonville-Clarksville Homelessness Task Force held its first public forum Tuesday, which served essentially as a brainstorming session about how to address the needs of homeless individuals living in Southern Indiana.
The task force was formed following a late-November sweep of a homeless camp under Interstate 65 near exit 0 when some personal property was taken by the city. The city said it returned the taken property.
Jeffersonville has since suspended sweeps of camps as a call was also made by city officials to develop a long-term solution to address the problems of the homeless with other area municipalities.
“Since the city has suspended sweeps, it does seem like there has been more and more of an obvious showing of homeless and their needs,” said Jeffersonville Mayor Mike Moore.
Along with Moore, Clarksville Street Commissioner Brad Cummings and Terry Stawar, CEO of LifeSpring Inc., headed up the meeting to gather suggestions on how to move forward. New Albany Director of Community Housing Initiatives Carl Malysz, speaking on behalf of Mayor Jeff Gahan, was on hand and also offered New Albany’s involvement in the effort.
“I think this morning is the appropriate day for the meeting because it is the coldest day of the year, so far,” Stawar said.
The three-person panel asked the audience of about 100 people to provide suggestions on how to best help those in need. And a number of suggestions were offered.
“The only thing that’s going to fix this issue is permanent housing,” said Paul Stensrud, founder of Jesus Cares at Exit 0, a homeless outreach group. “Even a shelter is temporary.”
He said a problem is that shelters are overcrowded, especially when the weather turns cold. Places that do help the homeless, like Wayside Christian Mission in Louisville, cleared food-service areas to lay down mattresses to house homeless individuals Tuesday night.