Homeless organizations questioning policy changes


VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – A new wave of rules has some homeless organizations questioning the Vigo County Parks Board.

One local woman is calling the recent changes discriminatory.

Muriel Ryan, the founder of ‘Families by Choice’ says the Vigo County Parks Board changed their policy for 2014 now requiring individuals to exit a public campsite after 14-days and unable to return for at least 7-days.

Originally the policy allowed people to camp up to 30-days and then switch to a different campsite.

Ryan says she feels like the recent changes are targeting the homeless. Plus she was the one who originally told the parks board about the homeless living in Hawthorn Park and regrets it.

“I’m really disappointed. I go back and reflect about going to the parks department last summer because I felt I was making an announcement they had never heard before, that there were 33 persons classified by HUD (Housing and Urban Development) as people that were homeless,” said Ryan.

Ryan says the people who are homeless and were camping out at Hawthorn Park were paying customers. They relied on that campground during the summer months; it was also a way of staying connected.

“As much as I’m really concerned about not being able to stay at the park and the other stipulation that’s in there about not being able to receive mail at the park, that I feel membership or park board may not be fully aware of the impact that will have. Many of the persons I met last summer were waiting on final notice for disability,” said Ryan.

News 10 did make a call to the president of the Vigo County Parks Board., Peggy Harlan to get her side of story as to why the changes but she has yet to return our calls.

Muriel Ryan says she plans on talking with the board on June 3 and hopes by providing more information about the people who want to occupy the park, the board will repeal their decision.

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