INDIANAPOLIS — Tom Gormley just bought the 2-story yellow house in the 1000 block of East Georgia Street on Indy’s near east side in May and was appropriately surprised when I knocked on his door to tell him the City had announced it was purchasing the property next door to locate a low-barrier shelter to serve Indianapolis’ homeless community.
“I feel like this is something I should’ve got notice on,” he said. “It sucks for me that I didn’t hear about this and I just bought a few months ago.”
While the City has been searching for property on which to build the shelter for more than a year, it was Tuesday morning’s announcement that caught neighbors off guard.
“I feel sorry for the people who will occupy these lots later but everybody’s gotta go somewhere,” said Frank Povinelli who has lived in the same house on Georgia Street for more than 80 years. “I just hope that they don’t cause any trouble for me.”
The City has already dedicated $2 million to the purchase of several parcels of land, including the building contractor William Phillips just bought and moved into last winter.
“I have no ties to this location either than I just acquired it and moved in,” said Phillips. “There’s no sentimental value but from a professional standpoint it was worth getting rid of.”
Even though a recent study showed Indianapolis’ homeless count dropped by 8% earlier this year, those without permanent shelter still need support and a variety of services to get back on their feet, such as, “access to licenses, health care, hopefully dental care, work, child care, anything you may need in one area so they don’t have to go all over the city to find what they need,” said Deputy Mayor Lauren Rodriguez.
“It’s literally right next to my house at all times,” said Gormley, who hoped to hold on to his house for a couple of years before moving on. “It was an investment anyways. But if that doesn’t happen, I feel like I just lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in the blink of an eye.”
The City has $12 million to finance the project.
The State has made $20 million available contingent on Indianapolis creating an ongoing revenue stream to support the shelter’s operations.
In the most recent session of the General Assembly state lawmakers gave Indianapolis the power to declare a Downtown Economic Enhancement District in the Mile Square to tax property owners in order to raise the funds to support Downtown Indy Inc., pay for other downtown maintenance and improvements and run the shelter.
City leaders are reaching out to property owners downtown to assess their take on a localized levy for their neighborhood.
“If resources can be found, that will continue that momentum,” said Indy Mayor Joe Hogsett. “I think it’s critically important and its something that I would be supportive of.”
The City County Council likely faces a year-end deadline to introduce, hear and vote on the proposed EED before Indiana lawmakers come back for the 2024 General Assembly session and could potentially roll back their approval.