November 10, 2021

New report highlights need for low barrier shelter options

New report highlights need for low barrier shelter options

A new analysis details solutions to provide more low barrier options for people experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis.

The needs assessment was commissioned last year by the Indianapolis City-County Council during the height of the pandemic and as the number of people experiencing homelessness increased.

The new report highlights a need to create a new center that provides more than just beds.   Deputy Mayor of Community Development Jeff Bennett said being able to connect to services including veterans or social security benefits, drivers licenses and housing is a top priority.

“Putting those types of resources at a hub, a one-stop shop, five days a week, or seven days a week, for extended hours,” Bennett said.

The report finds the city is about 100 beds short. It also highlights how important staffing would be to a new navigation center with housing first strategies.

Office of Public Health and Safety Director Lauren Rodriguez said the city has learned a lot running the non-congregate hotel shelter that housed hundreds last year.

“The Crowne Plaza provided a safe place for them to be, but get other services as well and then wait for their housing opportunity,” Rodriquez said.

People with lived experience were included in the report. They said barriers to current shelters include drug and alcohol restrictions, no pet rules and limited daytime access.

Bennett said efforts to fund alternative measures have been boosted by federal relief funds.

“There’s probably no better time than now,” Bennett said.

The analysis also looked at the possibility of designated camp areas and found that solution to be the least feasible.

Other recommendations include increasing permanent housing options.

Contact WFYI city government and policy reporter Jill Sheridan at Follow on Twitter: @JillASheridan.

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