Indianapolis officials on Tuesday announced new funding for a program that helps people who are homeless find and maintain permanent housing.
The Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation will give about $75,000 to the Street Reach Indy program.
Deputy Mayor Jeff Bennet says Street Reach Indy uses so-called “barrier buster funds” to pay for things like first month’s rent, security deposits and past-due utility bills.
“Those are, in the big scheme of things, relatively small dollar asks,” Bennett says. “But they’re huge barriers to vulnerable residents, someone who’s sleeping on the street. We find out through street outreach that, ‘Oh my gosh, the only thing that’s keeping them out of housing is the fact that they couldn’t pay the first month’s rent.'”
Bennett says this kind of assistance is often too small-scale to be covered by federal grants.
“Those types of small dollar expenses are like a square peg in a round hole when it comes to federal grant programs,” Bennett says. “So having flexible local dollars is hugely important.”
Street Reach Indy is a joint effort between Downtown Indy Inc. and the Coalition For Homelessness Intervention and Prevention.
Program director Tom Tuttle says the new money will allow them to serve 146 individuals.
“That’s a pretty significant number of individuals with a very relatively small investment into the program,” Tuttle says. “And the reason we’re able to do that is because we can pay for things that, to someone experiencing homelessness is a large amount of money, but in actuality, it takes a small investment to have a big impact.”
Tuttle says the program, created in 2017, relies solely on donations and business sponsorships.
The Indianapolis City-County Council is also on track to get funding for Street Reach Indy, using funds raised by extended parking meter hours in the city.
The city, along with local advocacy groups, considers the effort part of an ongoing project to end chronic homelessness by 2023.
That plan, revealed last year, calls for 1,110 new permanent housing units, 690 new rapid rehousing subsidy slots, expanded wraparound services, unified systems that monitor homelessness, and increased funding for the Indianapolis Continuum of Care, part of a HUD program comprised of people and organizations working on homelessness.