Elkhart forest draws some homeless tenants: ‘This is our home.’

Tuesday Sept. 1, 2015

Scenes from a homeless encampment, clockwise from top left: Steve Noble's tent, a bicycle and cart, some unopened been cans at another abandoned site, a path through the forest. By Tim Vandenack

Scenes from a homeless encampment in an Elkhart forest, clockwise from top left: Steve Noble’s tent, a bicycle and cart, some unopened bean cans and more at another abandoned site, a path through the forest. By Tim Vandenack

I learned of some homeless men living in a wooded plot of land owned by the city of Elkhart during the public input portion of a city council meeting.

Curiousity piqued, I paid a visit, accompanied by one of the city council members who had followed up on the report. There, I met a pair of homeless men living in a clearing in the forest, right in the middle of the city, and wrote a story. I’d heard of homeless people living in forests in the area, did a series of stories on a group of such men a few years back in Goshen.

This was the first time I saw a homeless campsite, though. The man I spoke to, Steve Noble, offered insights into homelessness, an issue that doesn’t get a great deal of attention here. He’s an alcoholic, he says, and part of the draw of living in the woods is not having to worry about rules at homeless shelters.

Here’s the full story.

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