Indianapolis approves plan to hire homeless Hoosiers

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Indianapolis will soon employ homeless Hoosiers to help clean up and beautify the city. It’s part of a proposal passed Monday night by the City-County Council aimed at tackling the growing issue of homelessness downtown.

A man calling himself Davi said he’s lived on the streets for 10 years, and he’s heard about the city’s new idea to put homeless people to work cleaning up Indianapolis.

“I mean every little bit helps,” said Davi. “I mean, I wouldn’t mind going around picking up trash, doing this, doing that, something to do.”

But he worries whether an effort like that would last.

“I think it’s a great idea, but I see a lot of the other homeless messing it up,” said Davi.

Monday night, the city approved $300,000 to help the homeless and part of that amount would go towards the employment program.

“We don’t have to re-invent the wheel, there are other cities who have tried things like this,” said Chelsea Haring-Cozzi, Director of the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention.

Some local businesses say recent efforts by the city do seem to be working.

“We’ve gotten more…police presence down here and the crime aspect has been knocked down almost to nothing,” said Doug Stephenson, owner of Downtown Comics. He said he likes the idea of putting the homeless to work, but says it has to part of a broader push.

“I think that this isolated alone, just paying people to go out and clean up trash or graffiti or whatever it might be, that alone is not going to work,” said Stephenson. “There has to be follow up with the merchant community and with the city.”

But how does the city ensure those hired take their jobs seriously?

“Likely this is a program that starts small and so accountability is relatively easy when you’re talking about employing five to twelve to fifteen people over the course of the summer or fall,” said Deputy Mayor Jeff Bennett, “building out the parameters of the program, the responsibilities of the employee will be key.”

Officials are hoping to have this employment program up and running by the spring or early summer.

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