Bloomington man uses property for homeless encampment, neighbors express concern

Published: Aug. 30, 2022 at 10:26 PM CDT
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BLOOMINGTON (25 News Now) - A Bloomington man is working to help an encampment of homeless people as they have been pushed out of the place they were staying for almost a year. That man is using his land to offer them a safe space, but neighbors are extremely concerned.

Chris Collins owns a piece of land on the west side of Bloomington. It sat vacant for years, until Tuesday.

“They had no where safe to go, so I happen to own this property and I’m offering them a safe haven,” said Collins.

Collins founded the non-profit Housing Our People Everywhere or HOPE.

When a group of homeless people needed to vacate a property on Market Street, Collins took it upon himself to let them use his land.

“Chris was kind enough to offer this to us,” said Scott Robertson who is experiencing homelessness.

Robertson says he usually is not allowed at shelters due to being a convicted felon. He says he did not know where he was going to sleep if it wasn’t for Collins.

“Blessed, in more ways than one,” said Robertson.

The property is right next to a neighborhood of homes. More than four neighbors say they are concerned about this being next door to their homes. Collins says he did not tell them his plans.

“They’re not going to be out here in this community panhandling or nothing else, I just don’t want them to be harassed,” said Collins.

Collins hopes to eventually build temporary housing for people on his property, but does not have any plans or requests to the city.

“Their life has been disrupted and I’m here for them,” said Collins.

As for the campsite, the city says a special use permit is required. Collins says he does not have one.