Indianapolis winter contingency plan adds hotel options for Hoosiers experiencing homelessness

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INDIANAPOLIS – The City of Indianapolis is working to help protect Hoosiers experiencing homelessness as the cold weather gets closer.

Two hotels were added to a list of overnight shelter options for Hoosiers experiencing homelessness in Marion County. The announcement comes as the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP) and Wheeler Mission partnered with the city to provide a new format and expanded services in its 2020 Winter Contingency Plan.

“This plan will provide safe food and shelter options to our most vulnerable residents through the winter months, no matter what the season has in store,” said Mayor Joe Hogsett. “Our continued collaboration with CHIP and Wheeler Mission has been essential as we adapt to the challenges posed by COVID-19. The pandemic isn’t going away—and neither will our coordinated response to provide resources and services for individuals and families experiencing homelessness.”

The plan will use up to an additional $5 million in federal CARES Act funding that the City-County Council budgeted to help with winter contingency. The money is primarily going towards hotel rooms so that shelters don’t get overcrowded.

“There’s even a bigger issue this year because of the impacts of COVID, the various impacts that COVID has had on our community,” Colleen Gore, Executive Vice President of Women’s Programs at Wheeler Mission said. “One of the biggest needs was to make sure it’s a non-congregate site so we can make sure to keep people safe while they’re experiencing winter shelter.”

Due to COVID-19, normal capacity at the shelters has been reduced to allow for social distancing during the pandemic. After the beds are filled, individuals will be referred to overflow locations, including hotels. The city shared the following Winter Contingency Plan protocols:

Men: Men seeking shelter will check in at Wheeler’s Shelter for Men (SFM) at 520 E. Market St., Indianapolis. Once those 250 beds are filled, males will be referred to the Men’s Residential Center (MRC) at 245 N. Delaware St., Indianapolis. During the months of Nov. – March, the MRC can accommodate up to 60 men for overflow services. When capacity is met at both facilities, males will be assigned to one of approximately 100 rooms at a contracted hotel.

Women and families: Women and families seeking shelter should call Wheeler’s Center for Women and Children (CWC) at 317-687-3630.  All permanent beds at the CWC will be filled first, and women and families will be referred to one of 175 rooms at a contracted hotel. This hotel is specifically serving single women and families to ensure family members can be sheltered together, including single men with children, couples with children, or single women with children.

Funding from the CARES Act expires at the end of the year. When that happens, the city will pick up the cost. Anyone interested in volunteering to help men, women and children experiencing homelessness during the winter months can visit www.wheelervolunteer.org for more information.

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