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Indianapolis continues to receive historic federal investments in housing programs

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Mayor Joe Hogsett stands in front of the Damien Center as he announces historic federal investments in Indianapolis’ homelessness programs. (Photo/Ben Thorp-WFYI News)

The City of Indianapolis announced on Tuesday that it received roughly $12 million to support homelessness and housing initiatives.

The competitive federal funding award comes in part because of data that shows Indianapolis has reduced the number of unhoused individuals within the city.

The $12 million from the Department of Housing and Urban Development is a historic investment in Indianapolis, representing a 20% increase in last year’s funding and a 170% increase since 2016.

Mayor Joe Hogsett said the funds are a recognition of the city’s many community partnerships to address homelessness.

“Put simply, our partnership here in Indianapolis is working,” Hogsett said.

The city’s effort, called a Continuum of Care, brings together a number of community partners to address different aspects of support to keep individuals from either becoming – or staying – unhoused.

This local plan dovetails with a national push towards an approach commonly referred to as Housing First, which aims to house individuals as a first step and then follow up with wrap-around support services.

Chelsea Haring-Cozzi, executive director of the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention, said the philosophy challenges a historical notion that housing needs to be “earned.”

“…That if you’re experiencing homelessness you have to prove that you can hold a job, you can get sober, you have to treat your physical or mental health issues before you can get to housing,” she said. “Housing First flips that upside down and says you have to solve the housing crisis first.”

Critics argue the city has not invested aggressively enough in providing housing to chronically homeless individuals – pointing to similar cities like Milwaukee, which has touted a 92% reduction in homelessness since 2015.

Haring-Cozzi said there are a lot of projects in the works, but it’s never fast enough.

“We’ve got a lot of work still to do,” she said. “[The $12 million announcement] is encouraging, but it doesn’t mean we take our eyes off of what has to be done. That supply is critical.”

According to Hogsett, there will be more announcements in the coming weeks of additional increases to the city’s housing stock.

Contact WBAA/WFYI reporter Benjamin Thorp at bthorp@wfyi.org.

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