City leaders form homeless intervention partnership to stop panhandling downtown

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. – Whether you live downtown or just visit for the food and fun, you have probably seen panhandlers posted up on city streets.

“A lot of times people feel uncomfortable around that and we do not know if we should give money to their shaking cups,” said Bob Schultz of Downtown Indy Corp.

As the number of homeless Hoosiers downtown continues to grow, so does the panhandling problem.

“In order for us to have a successful downtown…we have to address this issue,” said Alan Witchey of The Coalition for Homelessness Intervention & Prevention (CHIP).

Now, there is a new plan in place to help get these homeless Hoosiers off the streets and into permanent homes. CHIP is now teaming up with Schultz and Downtown Indy Inc. to tackle the problem.

“There really is a two prong effort here. We find out who is on the streets asking for money and the second is providing financial assistance to help them get off the street,” said Witchey.

Here is the partnerships new plan; first they are going to survey the downtown homeless population to find out what the most pressing needs are. By this summer, they will have a new full-time program manager who will work with businesses and community organizations to raise funds to help provide for those needs. Downtown Indy says it will cost thousands to get people into permanent housing or rehab centers if need be.

“This is about helping the people that are genuinely homeless get the help that they need,” said Witchey.

The groups are also working to start a community call in where businesses and people can call in and express their concerns about panhandling and homelessness downtown.