INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Indianapolis' only full-service day center for the homeless has been forced to make cutbacks just when it's needed most.
Fewer budget dollars and fewer donations are fueling the need for the changes. The center is cutting staff and shortening hours, even while trying not to turn away clients.
Horizon House averages 250 people coming to their center daily.
"We serve a very necessary function just keeping people alive," Executive Director John Joanette said.
For the past year, the number of people turning to Indianapolis' only full-service day center for the homeless has increased by about 25 percent.
"And these people don't have a lot of barriers being homeless, other than they lost their job," Joanette said.
"I lost my house, my family and my car," said Steve Lofton, a 58-year-old homeless man.
Lofton lost his job as a furniture warehouse manager, turning to the city's missions to help him slowly get back on his feet.
"They need places like this 24/7," he said while sitting at the Horizon House day room.
Horizon House provides warmth from the cold during the day and a place to do laundry, take a hot shower, receive job counseling, get medical advice and receive legal assistance.
"It's the forgotten throw-away people," Joanette said.
But a shortage of funds forced significant cuts in just the last week. The doors are open now only five days a week with greatly reduced hours. Its staff in the day room has been cut nearly in half while still serving the same number of clients.
"Seeing the pain of the individuals we work with is just something that never leaves you. It affects every aspect of your life. So to make cutbacks is really difficult," Joanette said.
Lofton says it doesn't make sense.
"Now if you (are) willing to go out and save something like a team like the Pacers, or you (are) going to go out and save the Colts, or you want to save some entertainment-type event, I think that's crazy, because we're human beings," Lofton said.
It's not that there isn't money. Horizon House gets funds from donations and local, state and federal sources. But most money comes with strings attached and can't be used for line items like extra staff and longer hours. Still, with more cold, snowy weather on the way, Horizon House says it will find ways to keep serving its clients.
For more information about the organization, visit Horizon House's website.
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