Full council to consider proposal to hire homeless to help clean Indy

Homeless camp in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A proposal to hire homeless people to help clean the city of Indianapolis is one step closer to reality.

The city’s Public Safety and Criminal Justice Committee unanimously approved Proposal 88 Wednesday evening.

The proposal would appropriate $300,000 from the 2019 Budget of the Office of Public Health and Safety to “contract with service providers to hire homeless neighbors to assist in cleaning, beautification and litter abatement.”

The proposal would also support entities providing wrap-around support services, supplement housing needs, and other necessities of homeless individuals and support programs.

Of the $300,000, roughly half would be spent on wrap-around services for homeless individuals, including mental health services, case management, workforce development training, medical services, etc. The remaining $150,000 would go to the jobs program.

Council officials say similar programs have been tested in other U.S. cities, like Seattle, Portland, Denver, and Albuquerque.

Deputy Mayor Jeff Bennett says the employment program “won’t bat 1,000,” but he believes it will make a significant difference both in the lives of those employed by the program and in the experience of those who live in, work in, or visit downtown Indianapolis.

Bennett reports that getting perhaps 50 percent participation in the employment program will make a significant difference in the rate of panhandling downtown.

Officials say funding and participation in these programs to address homelessness and panhandling will not be limited to downtown, but will be targeted to other “hotspots” around the city.

The proposal will next be considered by the full City-County Council.

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