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Bloomington women’s shelter closing following funding shortfalls

Womens Shelter Closing.png
Posted at 7:09 PM, Aug 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-08-11 19:52:47-04

BLOOMINGTON — The only homeless shelter dedicated to women in Bloomington is closing its doors.

The shelter is run by Wheeler Mission. They say funding issues is the reasoning for the closure.

“I was sleeping out on the street, to be honest with you ma’am. I was sleeping on top of my purse on the sidewalk,” Resa Hohmann said.

“I came originally from Orlando, Florida, and wasn’t getting along with my family. So, I came up here to find my own way but became homeless,” Neoma Sparks-Martina said.

Resa and Neoma are two of the 20 women the shelter is currently serving.

The shelter's last night of service is August 31. The shelter can hold up to 40 women total.

"It breaks our hearts to close the women’s shelter. We don't want to do that,” Dana Jones, Director of Community Engagement at Wheeler Mission in Bloomington, said. “We knew this was what was going to happen back in 2020. During the pandemic, we were just trying to keep it open to care for as many as we could during that very tragic time in our history."

Since 2020, the shelter has served 365 women. They were able to stay open due to the city, county and non-profits supporting them with extra funding. That funding has since run out.

Although Jones says they have seen an increase in the number of women experiencing homelessness over the years, men still experience homelessness at a higher rate.

"We are the region’s largest shelter provider and the largest portion of those experiencing homelessness are male,” Jones said.

According to the latest point in time count, data which tracks how many people are homeless across the state, in 2021 there were close to 1,800 men experiencing homelessness in Indiana and just over 1,200 women.

Wheeler Mission wants to make sure they can still serve the community of Bloomington. That’s why they say they made the difficult choice to close the shelters doors.

"Our biggest focus right now is to help keep our ministry sustainable in Bloomington,” Jones said. “So, what we are going to do in our three-to-five-year plan is we are going to focus on our men’s site first to broaden our services there."

For women like Resa and Neoma, they are staying positive. They say the shelter is helping them figure out their next steps.

"I don't think that I am getting kicked out in the cold. I believe they are going to help me find another place to live,” Resa said.

"They've been very helpful in having a plan for me. I'm not worried,” Neoma said.

Wheeler Mission says they are working with other social services agencies in the area to make sure the women they are serving are taken care of. Jones says they are working with one shelter that will potentially turn their facility in to a women’s shelter in the future.

In the meantime, Wheeler Mission will be referring women in need who aren’t from Bloomington to Indianapolis.

For women in the Bloomington area, they are recommending they reach out to Middle Way House andFriend’s Place.

As for the building the shelter is currently in, Wheeler Mission will be closing it for now. As the move forward they will decide what to use the building for in the future.