Owner of Bloomington property owes thousands in fines for homeless encampment

A homeless encampment in Bloomington in August 2022.
A homeless encampment in Bloomington in August 2022.(Gray)
Published: Jun. 7, 2023 at 8:32 PM CDT
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PEORIA (25News Now) - The owner of a plot of Bloomington land may be found in indirect civil contempt after not paying thousands of dollars in fines to the city for improperly using land as a homeless encampment.

Collins was ordered to appear before Judge Don Knapp on June 1, he now has a bench trial set for August 8.

Chris Collins started using a vacant plot of land last year after they had to vacant a different vacant spot on Market Street. That plot of land is now a Panda Express.

The city found Collins and his non-profit, Housing Our People Everywhere, in violation of zoning requirements in September, which dedicates that property to single-family housing.

Collins admitted to those violations in an October hearing, according to court documents.

He was fined $50 a day for seven different counts. Combined with court fines and fees, he was asked to pay $7,360. He has not yet paid that amount.

He told 25News he was trying to do a good thing and felt targeted by the city. He set up a time and place to go on-camera with 25News but did not show up. He did not respond to multiple calls, texts, and emails for comment.

Court records show Collins was given a summons multiple times to appear in court, a notice was also put into The Pantagraph informing him of his court date on June 1.

“The city has attempted to serve the defendant... in two separate counties,” a motion from Bloomington’s counsel Angela Fyans-Jimenez said. “The parcel of land that is the subject of this case is deteriorating and not being kept up.”

The land is mostly vacant, there is a pile of filled garbage bags beneath a tree and a tent set up on the back edge of the property, it’s not clear if anyone was in the tent. Collins said he is trying to sell the land.

There was not a for sale sign on the property Wednesday afternoon.

A spokesperson for the City of Bloomington said they are unable to comment on ongoing litigation.