‘Homeless Bill of Rights’ up for discussion Tuesday night

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (February 24, 2015) – A proposal aims to protect the rights of the homeless in Indianapolis. The City-County Council will discuss the issue at a meeting Tuesday night.

The proposal was introduced by Leroy Robinson, (D) At-Large council member, in September 2014. The "Homeless Bill of Rights" would offer more resources to homeless people who are displaced when a homeless camp is dismantled. Robinson would also like to see the creation of an engagement center so those struggling with addiction or mental problems have a place to turn to for help. There are plans to propose homeless people be considered a protected class.

“The city of Indianapolis has ranked in the bottom in regards to poverty and poor people in our city,” Robinson said. “It is time that the Indianapolis has done something. Provide resources to help our poor people. We’ve not done that.”

Some council Republicans are concerned about the financial and legal implications of the proposal. The engagement center would cost $700,000 a year for the next two years. The ordinance would require the city to store a homeless person’s belongings if the city shuts down a camp. The storage fees are estimated to be $17,000 a year.

Robinson said the idea would save the city money in the long run.

“So as opposed to criminalizing the homeless, arresting and locking them up—we’ll save money by treating their addictions that many of them have in the camps around the city,” Robinson said. “So honestly, it’ll be a cost savings to our city, not excess.”

The Rules and Public Policy Committee will meet at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to take up the issue.