Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett on Tuesday announced a proposal to use $500,000 to address homelessness and panhandling issues in the city.
Funding in the plan is split into two parts.
The first half would increase police presence downtown, a direct response to what the mayor and others call "aggressive panhandling." Hogsett says the primary purpose of the increased presence would be to make the area feel safe for residents and visitors.
Michael McQuillen, the City-County Council Republican leader who recently authored a controversial ordinance to address the issue more broadly, says the mayor’s plan will likely get bipartisan support.
“I think the approach the mayor rolled out today is a very fair approach," McQuillen says. "And at the end of the day, we just want safer streets and a safer community for people to come and visit.”
The other $250,000 would be given to organizations that offer supportive services and permanent housing to people experiencing homelessness. This lines up with the mayor’s goal to significantly increase housing options, and the city’s goal to end chronic homelessness in five years.
"We appreciate Mayor Hogsett's commitment to keeping Indianapolis and the Mile Square a safe and appealing place to live, work and invest," Mark Fisher, Chief Policy Officer of the Indy Chamber, said in a statement. "But we also recognize the need for compassionate and comprehensive strategies to fight poverty and homelessness."
City leaders won’t say where the funding would come from. Council President Vop Osili says there is a source, and it won’t be a property tax increase.
Osili says he expects the proposal will be introduced to the City-County Council very soon.