Indianapolis will receive $5 million from the federal government to help end homelessness, Mayor Joe Hogsett announced Tuesday.
The money comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Most will go toward housing efforts
Alan Witchey, executive director of the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention, says the dominant philosophy at HUD states that housing is the crucial first step for a homeless person to become self-sufficient.
“If you don’t have housing, the basic need, you can’t focus on other issues," Witchey says. "You can’t focus on a job, you can’t focus on your addiction, you can’t focus on your mental health issue.”
The awards are part of HUD's Continuum of Care Program that allocates funds, according to its website, to "quickly rehouse homeless individuals and families while minimizing the trauma and dislocation caused to homeless individuals, families, and communities by homelessness."
The city’s request for similar funds was rejected in 2015, a disappointment some agencies blamed on then-mayor Greg Ballard’s administration. Witchey says this year’s successful bid is the result of a closer adherence to HUD’s requirements and the leadership of Mayor Hogsett.
The announcement comes one day after the mayor cut the ribbon for the new Reuben Engagement Center, a 30-bed homeless detox center. And HUD announced at the end of December that homeless programs in Indianapolis will receive $5 million from the federal government, as part of $2 billion in handouts nationwide.
More than 8,000 people experience homelessness in Indianapolis throughout the year, according to annual reports from CHIP.