SOUTH BEND, Ind. — REAL News Michiana has learned a man living at the Old Knights Inn on Lincolnway West, that is now home to the Motels4Now homeless initiative, died from a drug overdose only days before the organization put together a group of activists in an attempt to intimidate elected officials into giving the program $1.65 million in taxpayer money. Nobody from the organization mentioned the death as they filled a St. Joseph County Council meeting in February with dozens of protestors demanding the county continue to fund the failed initiative. It turns out, only days after the meeting, RNM has confirmed another man connected to the program died from a suspected overdose. That information was also not shared with elected officials as the program continues to put pressure on the County Council for more money.
According to publicly available records, 58-year-old Kevin Taylor died from a cocaine overdose at Motels4Now on January 29th of this year. Two weeks later, on February 14th, activist and politicians involved in the program attended a County Council meeting, demanding the county continue to fund the program. Nobody mentioned anything about Taylor’s death. In fact, one Democrat politician took time to gaslight the Council by essentially calling them un-Christian if they were to bring up the reported drug problem being had at the facility.
“I looked in her eyes and I saw Christ. I saw Jesus Christ. Looking at me and saying, ‘do not look away from me. Do not look away. Please help me. I didn’t see drug, adult criminals…,” Former St. Joseph County Auditor, Mike Hamann (D), who has been involved in the program since it was started in 2020, said during the meeting. However, he never mentioned the death of Mr. Taylor.
Only 4 days later, RNM has learned another man who “graduated” from the Motels4Now program died from a suspected overdose while living in another transitional home.
Even the Democrat St. Joseph County Sheriff ignored the recent deaths at the facility, as he joined in on the pressure campaign to fund the program. In a January 25th email sent to the Council, Redman wrote “These individuals would otherwise be wandering the streets of St. Joseph County or be housed at the St. Joseph County Jail.” Redman stated in his letter, letting it be known that he does not want to arrest criminals in the community. “Being held in our jail is not the solution!” However, it’s apparent individuals staying at Motels4Now, instead of jail, are ending up in the county morgue.
Redman, who is the head law enforcement officer in the county, did not send another email or letter to the elected officials following these latest deaths regarding the facility.
MAJOR DRUG AND CRIME PROBLEM
In January, an RNM investigation uncovered major crime and drug problems with the Motels4Now program. A public records request by REAL News Michiana discovered The “low barrier” facility has been the scene of countless drug overdoses, thefts and batteries, while purporting to be helping those most in need in our community. “Low barrier” means there are essentially no rules for being admitted and housed, allowing drugs and crime to run rampant.
While a large number of the calls (42) from the past year were for reporting “Unwanted Persons,” it is apparent crime is a major problem with the program located at the old Knights Inn on Lincolnway West in South Bend. Below is a breakdown of some of the highlights.
Assault: 17 Calls
Theft: 15 Calls
Disturbance: 15 Calls
Overdose: 14 Calls
Threat: 10 Calls
Suspicious Activity: 8 Calls
Fighting: 4 Calls
Burglary: 3 Calls
Weapons: 3 Calls
Shots Fired: 3 Calls
Harassment: 3 Calls
Vandalism: 2 Calls
Stabbing: 1 Call
Sex Assault: 1 Call
Drugs: 1 Call
It also turns out, the taxpayer has already footed the bill for this nuisance property at the tune of millions of dollars. Through the end of 2021, the program received $2,076,514 from St. Joseph County. In 2022, the property owner received $268,975 in taxpayer dollars from the county himself. And, that’s not including emergency rental assistance that has been paid out at taxpayer expense.
In a typical circumstance, a property like this would be considered a “nuisance property” facing several costly fines with the potential of being shut down. It’s unclear if any fines have been levied against the Motels 4 Now program or the property owner. RNM has requested that information and is waiting for it to be provided.
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