SPECIAL COVERAGE: 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500

New Indianapolis program hires homeless and panhandlers at $10 an hour

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – When someone experiences homelessness, sometimes they can lose hope. The City of Indianapolis is trying to bring some of it back by providing them with jobs through the Pathways to Employment program.

Gary Watkins is unfortunately without a home and he says it would be easy to throw in the towel.

"A lot of these guys don’t do drugs and a lot of them don’t drink. They just for one reason or another found themselves bottled out," Gary Watkins said.

Homeless people depend on places like Wheeler Mission to get by.

"Everyone is dealing with their own reasons for their homelessness. They’re dealing with their own reasons for panhandling," said Wheeler Mission’s Director of Emergency Shelter Services William Bumphus.

Homelessness and panhandling are two issues the City of Indianapolis is trying to tackle through the Pathways to Employment program

"I'm sure from the public’s perspective they don’t want to be bothered by people coming up. A lot of them doing the panhandling feel that they have no other choice," Gary Watkins said.

About $300,000 of the city’s 2019 budget is going towards the new initiative. The office of Health and Public Safety will be able to hire our homelessness neighbors to do beautification work around the city at $10 an hour.

"This is that first step along the path towards longer-term and high waged employment here in Indianapolis especially for our vulnerable residents," said Director of Public Health Paul Babcock.

Watkins says the new program gives the homeless hope that their community does care.

"Homelessness isn’t necessarily hopelessness. This job initiative and the other businesses in the area are giving these people hope," Watkins said.

Ten people are already signed up for the program and it is set to launch on Monday.

IMPD’s Homeless Unit and Reuben Engagement Center is doing the outreach to recruit new hires for the program.

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