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City tackles homelessness through new grant

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The mayor’s office, the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP) and Merchants Affordable Housing Corporation, are working to combat homelessness in Indianapolis through a new grant program, Mayor Joe Hogsett announced during a press conference Sept. 8.

Over $7 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding, provided from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, will be used to help get Hoosiers experiencing homelessness or living in temporary, non-congregated shelter, into a home. This grant is specifically for people currently experiencing homelessness, not for Hoosiers risking eviction following the moratorium lift.

“This is the beginning of a collective effort by our community to address [homelessness] … in a coordinated way,” Hogsett said. “This won’t be done overnight, and sometimes progress is frustratingly slow, but nonetheless, progress is being made.”

The rapid rehousing program will pair Hoosiers in need with landlords and housing units willing to accept the funding, as well as provide them with resources to get back on their feet. There are no requirements – such as employment, sobriety, or a clean criminal record – to be in the program.

“We will connect people to services, including employment, to help in long-term stability,” Chelsea Haring-Cozzi, executive director of CHIP, said. Haring-Cozzi went on to say, in similar programs, 90% of the people housed remained housed after two years and did not return to homelessness.

Both Haring-Cozzi and Janine Betsey, president and CEO of Merchants Affordable Housing Corp., stressed housing is healthcare, especially during a pandemic.

“Living unhoused is incompatible with staying healthy and safe in the midst of this public health crisis,” Haring-Cozzi said. “We have an amazing opportunity to leverage this funding and the dedication of our provider community to secure and support hundreds of households through permanent housing. Creating a rehousing infrastructure with Merchants Affordable Housing will allow our partners to do this work at scale and to build a robust way of expanding inventory, identifying units and engaging with landlords.”

Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.

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