EVANSVILLE, IND. (WEHT) — If you stepped outside this week, you know it was cold. For a group of Evansville city officials, two of those winter-like nights felt even longer. About a dozen officials said goodbye to their warm bed Thursday morning to experience 48 hours of homelessness.
Vanderburgh County Sheriff elect, Lieutenant Noah Robertson, was one of the participants. He says that two words come to mind when reflecting on the experience — cold and control.
“You are cold and you do not know where your day is going to go,” he says.
It was all part of Aurora Evansville’s second installment of ‘The Homeless Experience Project.” The experience began Thursday. Participants met at Aurora to receive instructions before being immersed in the experience.
Robinson says he laid on a bench at the Civic Center and watched coworkers pass by.
“People I worked with for 20 years or more years did not even notice that I was out there,” he says.
“The experience made me aware and made me think,” says Noah Stubbs, Director of Communications, City of Evansville.
Each person was given a backstory to blend in, along with a unique set of challenges. Participants had to navigate these while living on the streets of Evansville for two days and two nights.
“I did not have a phone number, I did not have a car, I did not have any means of communication,” Stubbs says.
Stubbs says although he does not know what it is like to be homeless, the experience helped him get a better grasp on what some residents face.
“We get calls into the mayor’s office from people living one check away from missing a payment and being evicted. We get calls from people living in their cars, we know the resources that can help with that. But being one on one in person is beyond that referral from our office to a place like Aurora.
This is the second year in a row that Aurora has hosted the event. You may remember last year, our very own Wayne Hart took part in experiencing homelessness. He spent two nights on the street, including a white flag night, where the temperature dropped below 32 degrees.