An Indianapolis Public Schools building will be used to house women, children and families experiencing homelessness this winter.
The former Susan Roll Leach, IPS 68 on Indianapolis’ northeast side has been vacant in recent years but will find reuse as a shelter. The move is part of the city’s winter contingency plan.
Office of Public Health and Safety Housing Specialist Andrew Merkley said the pandemic has increased need.
“In order to be able to accommodate the number that we saw last year, we really needed a large enough space and there were no hotels in one facility that could accommodate us,” Merkley said.
Last year the city housed hundreds through a hotel program run with federal relief aid. City partners including Wheeler Mission will staff and run the shelter, moving from the Center for Women and Children, for winter operations.
The facility will provide rooms for families, including men, as well as wrap-around services like employment and connections to permanent housing. Merkley said the facility will be able to provide better coordination.
“It’s just a better situation to have everyone in one place where we can provide those wrap around services,” Merkley said.
Merkley said the CWC is at or near capacity now. The city is assisting operations this year and partnered with HUD and IPS on the project.
Federal relief money and Community Block Grant funding will be used for the facility, which is expected to open before the new year.
Last year the number of people experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis was up 21 percent, to 1,928 in an annual count.