Community leaders announce plans to build 96 more permanent housing solutions as part of a comprehensive plan to end and prevent homelessness by 2024

by Shari Finnell, editor/writer, Charitable Advisors

The road to homelessness can be complex — with individuals and families experiencing varying factors that can lead to them living on the street, in parks or in vehicles, as outlined in Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. In the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, sociologist Matthew Desmond provides a rare look into the lives of several individuals who failed to avoid homelessness in Milwaukee.

After years of analyzing the homeless population in Indianapolis, city officials and community leaders realize they still don’t have all the answers — but are hopeful that a comprehensive approach that includes a continuum of care, hundreds of new supportive permanent housing units and rental assistance can put them on the path to ending homelessness by 2024, said Chelsea Haring-Cozzi, the executive director of the Coalition for Homelessness Prevention and Intervention.

While many cities have traditionally focused on short- to medium-term solutions that focus on stabilizing housing within a 12- to 24-month time period, the Indianapolis Continuum of Care (CoC), a coalition of public and private organizations and individuals, has shifted the focus on more permanent solutions for homeless people in Indianapolis, Haring-Cozzi said.

As part of that plan, the CoC recently announced plans to build 96 permanent housing solutions with a $37 million grant awarded by the state of Indiana. The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) has chosen three supportive housing developments in Indianapolis for this year’s round of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC). The three local developments will create 96 new units of permanent supportive housing for individuals experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis.

The projects include:

  • Hanna Commons, 2800-2910 E. Hanna Ave., Indianapolis, Ind., 46227. Awarded $1.2 million annually for 10 years to provide 50 supportive housing units for individuals experiencing homelessness.
  • St. Lucas Lofts, 2810 E. New York St., Indianapolis, Ind., 46201. Awarded $1.08 million annually for 10 years to provide 50 affordable housing units for youth experiencing homelessness.
  • Compass on Washington Street, 1033 East Washington St., Indianapolis, Ind., 46202, awarded $1.2 million annually for 10 years and $900,000 in Housing Trust Funds to develop 36 supportive housing units for individuals experiencing homelessness.

Construction on all three housing developments is expected to start later this year with an anticipated completion date by the end of 2022. All three developments qualify for Indianapolis Housing Authority vouchers. These projects bring the city of Indianapolis and the CoC closer to its goal of developing 500 new supportive housing units by 2024. Currently, there are 360 supportive housing units under development in the city.

The plan is also focused on preventing homelessness. Haring-Cozzi noted that the pandemic, as of yet, has not contributed to a noticeable uptick in the number of homeless people in Indianapolis as some people had feared.

“When counts were analyzed in January 2021, compared to last January, Indianapolis didn’t see much of a change,” she said. “Even before COVID, Indianapolis was among the few communities nationwide that wasn’t seeing the same type of uptick in homelessness.”

However, the impact of COVID-19 may still need to be realized, she said. The next few months may reveal how if there will be any sustainable fallout caused by the pandemic. “We’re hopeful eviction moratoriums have curbed the impact of the loss of housing and the loss of income, along with people getting rental assistance,” she said.

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