City leaders say they’re addressing growing homeless population in Downtown Indy

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INDIANAPOLIS – New data found people experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis increased by 21 percent in 2021.

The annual assessment — released this week lists more than 2,000 Marion County residents are experiencing homelessness. That’s the highest in 10 years.

 Greg Bires is the owner of Windsor Jewelry Shop — a staple on Monument Circle for more than 100 years.

He says he’s noticed more people — living on the street — near his business.

“When you have anything that makes people feel uncomfortable, yes it’s going to impact business,” Bires said. “If people don’t feel safe downtown, then they’re not going to come downtown.”

That’s why he wants more resources for those experiencing homelessness.

“Instead of having them scattered throughout the city and fend for themselves it would be nice if there was a central place that we could maintain and keep them clean,” Bires said.

This year the City-County Council passed Proposal 76 — which was mean to lessen the effects of living without a home or residence.

“The city-county council was trying to address homelessness in the downtown area where business owners and others in the community were seeing an increase since the beginning of the pandemic,” said Andrew Merkley, a Housing Specialist with the Department of Public Health and Safety.

The proposal stated that on or before July 1st, a designated charitable distribution site would be established in the Downtown Indianapolis area. 

That is now at Old City Hall on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

“A lot of what was asked of us in Proposal 76, these non-congregate shelters have helped in getting folks off the streets and into permanent housing,” Merkley said.

City leaders say Proposal 76 is part of a greater initiative to end homelessness in Marion County.

 “We’ve been able to invest unprecedented resources in over the last 16 months,” said Jeff Bennett, Deputy Mayor of Community Development.

50 million dollars in rental assistance and 20 million dollars in resources from the Cares Act to be specific.

All of it — meant to help these Hoosiers — which Bires says is the important part.

“The people were talking about, the homeless population, it’s not their fault sometimes,” Bires said. “Sometimes they need a little extra help and so hopefully the city can come up with a plan.”

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