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Nappanee man forms group to help homeless in Michiana and downtown Chicago

Updated: Mon 6:55 PM, Jul 08, 2013

By: Stephanie Stang

After retiring a Nappanee man is taking on a full time job of helping the homeless.

More than a year ago, John Shafer started a non-for-profit called the “Chicago Five for the Homeless.” The group distributes donations to six local homeless shelters, like Faith Mission in Elkhart.

They have made several trips to Chicago to help people living on the streets. The group has handed out blankets, toiletries and food.

“So where the need is greatest we want to focus certainly on those individuals that seem to be forgotten and invisible and give them clothing and basic needs,” says Shafer.

The next trip the group will make to Chicago is on July 20th when they plan to serve a meal for a couple hundred people. (Original article)


A Michiana activist wants vacant homes put to use

Posted: Jan 07, 2015 6:20 PM EST Updated: Jan 07, 2015 6:23 PM EST

By Andreina Centlivre

ELKHART, Ind. –  A Michiana activist for the homeless is asking city officials to turn vacant homes and buildings into shelters on brutal winter days.

John Shafer who runs the nonprofit Chicago and Michiana Five for the Homeless is known for collecting blankets for the homeless. Today he is asking for more – he wants more shelters.

“Find a vacant building, a vacant apartment house, an office building – someplace where they can house the homeless. Get them out of this weather,” said Shafer.

Ronald Dove who visits Faith Mission’s warming center and homeless shelter says “In this area, this is the only one. The only other one in the area is in South Bend. So yea, they are few and far.”

Shafer says he is petitioning for city officials to follow suit of other cities who have used vacant homes to reduce the cost that come with housing the homeless.

“The cost can typically be $31,000 per person, per year. The studies show that it can be reduced almost to $10,000 per person, per year just giving them a warm place, a warm building,” explains Shafer.

In Elkhart there are homeless who could benefit from more shelter options.

Ross Swihart, the Executive Director of Faith Mission of Elkhart says, “Well typically the reason for not being able to take a person would be like on our family side for the most part because we are filled up.”

Having to turn away the homeless in need is exactly why Shafer is asking the city to take action.

“Begin to house our homeless and get them off the streets,” demands Shafer.

Shafer is looking for support and asking people to write their city officials to support his cause. He says with a bigger community response the more likely his plan will be heard. (original article)




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