PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD)– A Thursday night meeting including discussions about property management group Darwin Homes vacating occupied rental properties, evolved into a greater discussion about Peoria’s homeless crisis.

Peoria city officials, tenants, landlords, and activists gathered at the Peoria Police Resource Center and all agreed more needs to be done to protect Peoria’s most vulnerable population.

There was debate surrounding whether or not the City of Peoria was doing enough to combat the homelessness issue. Assistant Director of Community Development, Joe Dulin, emphasized Peoria’s many non-profit charitable organizations and homelessness resources and made the important distinction that Darwin Homes is legally within their right to vacate their properties.

Others at the meeting believe the city is capable of doing more. They discussed that an eviction moratorium could be a possible option, and questioned the reasoning behind the number of currently vacant homes in the area, with so many people experiencing homelessness.

Kristen Meierkord, the president of the East Bluff Neighborhood Association and ACLU of the Peoria Chapter, believes turn-out is one of the more pressing issues affecting the community.

“I’m trying to get citizens involved. It’s very difficult for us to mobilize people in certain communities,” said Meierkord. “Everyone seems to have a lot to say, if you go on the East Bluff news site, everybody’s talking. Where are they?”

Meierkord continued, “So come out! Voice your opinion, and speak up when you have someone from the city present. It can’t always be the same 6-8 people every time. We’re trying as hard we can, but we need some extra momentum.”