Activists are pushing for South Bend’s 2022 budget plan voting date to be delayed

NOW: Activists are pushing for South Bend’s 2022 budget plan voting date to be delayed

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The city of South Bend has put forward a $381 million budget plan for 2022, but local activists and community members say despite millions of dollars being set aside to rebuild city neighborhoods, they believe their continued calls to lay out a plan that specifically invests in communities of color on the city’s west side have been ignored.

“We’re concerned that residents’ priorities and how they would like to see their community needs met are not being addressed in the Common Council’s budget process," said Jorden Giger, Co-Leader of Black Lives Matter, South Bend.

Community members and activists have called on the city’s budget to include specific plans for things like neighborhood development, affordable housing, and an urban planner to grow the city’s west side. An area they say has struggled long before the pandemic.

“Why does it seem you’re intentionally impacting the most vulnerable population on our far west side, the children. We need to ensure that impacted stakeholders that vested residents who spent most, if not all, of their lives in South bend are at the table, are heard, and intentionally paid attention to,” said Tiana Batiste-Waddell, Diversity and Inclusion Consultant. 

However, South Bend Mayor James Mueller said they’ve taken the overwhelming public input into account including input from activists, and,  with additional COVID-19 federal funding, they’ve been able to address some of these concerns specifically in that area. 

“Because of the federal dollars and resources that are coming here, we’re able to do more than ever before. We’re proposing $8 million or so across different pieces of a housing strategy. We’ve also included a historic investment in the Martin Luther King Center to transform it into a dream center,” added Mueller.

Despite these moves, Second District Councilman Henry Davis Jr., who has been speaking out alongside activists and community members, said there is no connectivity for an overall plan for these neighborhoods, which is why he believes things need to be revisited.

“This has been a farce and I think that if the city, if it doesn’t pump the breaks, we’re going to suffer generationally from the decisions that are being made right now,” said Davis.  

The 2022 budget plan is set to be voted on next Monday.

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