Motels4Now is a housing-first program created in August 2020 that houses the chronically homeless in dignity and is helping many move into more long-term, month-to-month housing.
See our Facebook Page for more details:
If you are in need of housing and would like to get on the waitlist for Motels4Now, you can sign up at Our Lady of the Road (744 S Main St, South Bend, IN 46601) during the Resource Center hours on Wednesdays from 2-5 PM.
If you have questions about M4N you can call: 574-222-0417
Summary of the Progam History:
When Weather Amnesty, the seasonal emergency shelter, ended in South Bend on April 30, 2020, a hundred displaced people set up tents around downtown South Bend. During this time, two advocates began circulating a community petition, calling upon the City of South Bend to use their allocated Cares Act funds, under HUD’s Emergency Shelter Grants, to provide much needed Personal Protective Equipment, sanitation facilities, and emergency shelter. After the second Tent City was evicted from the corner of Monroe St. and Main St., they settled on South St. Joseph St. in the Monroe Park neighborhood. In response, the neighborhood began convening weekly Zoom meetings of stakeholders, including elected officials from the City of South Bend.
COVID-19 restrictions had resulted in the closure of existing shelters as well as the few public restroom facilities available. The main St. Joseph County Public Library branch, long a refuge for people without housing, was closed for renovation. Thus, those living in tents were without sanitation and running water over the course of one of the hottest summers on record. By August, the situation was untenable, a gross violation of human dignity. A regular donor to Our Lady of the Road (OLR) offered to support the relocation of people into motel rooms, and that initial donation of $30,000 was matched within one week by another longtime OLR supporter.
The two Tent City advocates were hired as independent contractors to develop the motel program, along with in-kind administrative and material support from OLR and Michiana 5 for the Homeless, #Motels4Now (M4N) was launched and the advocates began moving 42 people from tents into motel rooms on August 17, 2020. Thirty more people joined by the end of the month.
St. Joseph County officials began meeting with M4N in September, and using CARES Act funding, they contracted with Our Lady of the Road as sponsor of M4N to continue sheltering people in motels from October 1, 2020 - March 31, 2021. The City of South Bend agreed to fund Oaklawn’s provision of counseling and other wrap-around services for this same period. With the approval of funds from the county for operational costs of the program, M4N staff grew with one additional full-time administrator and two additional part-time on-site outreach workers.
In October, we expected to be housing 100-120 people. Due to the renovation of more motel rooms, and a large influx of children, we are now housing nearly 150 people. We have been surprised that our waitlist numbers have never dipped below 95, and are consistently over 100.
While there are over ten organizations which make up the South Bend, IN Homeless system, only the Motels4Now program offers both stability and low barrier entry. The combination of these two has allowed for 3 out of every 5 people that enter the motel program to remain in the program. The significance of this is hard to overstate for a very transient population. Several have told us that this is the longest they have lived in one place in many years. 1 in every 5 go on to a better situation after being at the motel, and less than 1 in 5 are asked to leave for not following the rules of the program. Alongside of this, people are accessing mental health care at Epworth, planning for and going to rehab, applying for and acquiring jobs, setting up and keeping medical appointments, acquiring phones, insurance, and food stamps.