Indiana Daily Student

Wheeler Mission expansion to help unhoused population in Bloomington

<p>The Wheeler Mission Center for Women &amp; Children Bloomington is located at 400 S. Opportunity Lane. The organization recently purchased an additional building at 215 Westplex Ave. to expand its services.</p><p> </p>

The Wheeler Mission Center for Women & Children Bloomington is located at 400 S. Opportunity Lane. The organization recently purchased an additional building at 215 Westplex Ave. to expand its services.

Wheeler Mission in Bloomington recently purchased an additional building to expand its campus site for its shelter and services at 215 Westplex Ave, according to a previous article by the IDS

Dana Jones, director of the Center for Men at Wheeler Mission, said he is hopeful that within the next year this new building will open and allow Wheeler to offer a new emergency shelter along with the two existing buildings. 

This new renovated emergency shelter services building will allow for 84 beds for people experiencing homelessness, Jones said. He said this will permit the current building to be utilized for the people experiencing homelessness who are in its program for long-term stays. 

Jones said the new building will have a day room, numerous bathrooms and a courtyard with guest lockers. 

This new dormitory will be only for men, but Wheeler has a women's shelter located at 400 S Opportunity Ln, Jones said. 

Jones said he hopes the addition of this new building space will be a welcoming atmosphere for  social service providers in Bloomington to come help the people experiencing homelessness. 

“We really enjoy working with social service providers that want to come and help those that we are serving,” Jones said. 

Centerstone, a nonprofit health system, partners with Wheeler Mission because it is the lowest barrier shelter option for people experiencing homelessness in Bloomington, Greg May, director of integrated health at Centerstone, said. 

May said the people experiencing homelessness at Wheeler can access services by visiting a Centerstone location. He said the nonprofit also helps to provide housing, medication management and therapy services to those at Wheeler Mission.  

The expansion will help to alleviate the current overcrowding of Bloomington streets that are occupied by a large unhoused population, May said.

“Wheeler is providing a much-needed service in the community, and I hope Bloomington appreciates the work they are doing to meet the housing demand for those without one,” May said.  

IU Health is helping to vaccinate the unhoused population at Wheeler Mission, Carol Weiss-Kennedy, IU Health Bloomington director of community health, said.

Weiss-Kennedy said IU Health has been offering vaccines to those at the Wheeler Mission sites. She said the most recent vaccination sites were offering flu vaccines to those in the shelters. 

But Weiss-Kennedy said the unhoused population must first have a place to stay, like the new Wheeler Mission shelter, before taking care of their physical health. 

“Health issues do not become important to this population until basic needs like shelter, food and safety are taken care of,” she said. 

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