Updated July 27, 2020 at 2 p.m.
The Reuben Engagement Center, that temporarily houses people experiencing homelessness and are suffering from addiction, shut its doors during the pandemic. The center hopes to resume services next week, but at a new location.
The new location would be the hotel where the city provides rooms for other vulnerable people facing housing challenges.
Indianapolis’s Director of the Office of Public Health and Safety, Paul Babcock said it is a safer place to restart services during the coronavirus crisis.
"In a sense the Reuben Engagement Center at a hotel," Babcock said. "So it will be providing the same services, allowing individuals to detox safely and then get them the services they need."
Before the pandemic, the Reuben Center offered a safe place for people in crisis to receive care for substance abuse disorders, a problem that’s expected to rise.
Executive Director of nonprofit Pathways To Recovery, Sandy Jeffers said the service is vital.
"The only free detox program in the city specifically designed to serve homeless individuals who are trying to make a life decision to break addictions," Jeffers said.
But Jeffers said it can’t be replicated in a hotel setting.
"That’s a completely different scenario than providing engagement services to help people become clean and sober," Jeffers said.
A petition to reopen the center has over 3,000 signatures.
In a release from Indianapolis’s Office of Public Health and Safety the city says it is taking steps to safely make REC services available at the city’s new Assessment and Intervention Center, AIC.
The AIC is planned to open later this year at the Community Justice Campus.
In an email statement Bill Moreau, chair of the Reuben Engagement Center Board of Directors, said the pandemic has raised challenges.
“We remain engaged to find alternative ways to provide support to our residents dealing with homelessness and could not do that without our community partners and their commitment to this work," Moreau said.