INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Pride month has officially started, and Indy Pride has added roughly 20 events to its calendar.
Organizers say people can expect a bigger and better event.
For around 10 days, Military Park will be transformed into the Pride festival grounds. Organizers say they took feedback, and this go-around you’ll have more space to roam, see venders performs, and much more.
Pride is more than a month, but the date is set for the big celebration. Planned in six months, last year’s festival was the biggest celebration yet. Indy Pride Vice President of Community Events Jose Castillo-Jimenez says it can only go up.
“We had a full year to actually plan, and we’re coming bigger than ever,” Jimenez said.
last year brought a lot of trauma and uncertainty to members of the LGBTQ+ community. Jimenez says the next 30 days is about bringing community together, while showcasing the amazing people and talent Indiana has to offer.
“It comes from trauma, but it’s a moment to celebrate. it’s a moment to shine,” Jimenez said.
This year’s calendar has roughly 20 official events. Many are partnered with various LGBTQ+ organizations around the state and offering events for all age groups, backgrounds and allies.
“I think it’s just a way for you to come and see our world and interact with us, and see that it’s not that different,” Castillo-Jimenez said. “It’s not hard to be an ally, or to be an accomplice as I like to call it. I think accomplices are there to get in trouble with you and they fight with you no matter what.”
A few new safety measures have been added, along with a longer parade route, and entries. Parade entries reached 180 this year, compared to last year’s 140.
“More performers and more stages. I think we’re doing it bigger in every area that we can think of when it comes to safety, when it comes to entertainment, when it comes to just space in general.”
The first Indy Pride events kick off Friday, with other agencies holding many more events throughout the month.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Tenants are finding it harder to get rental approval due to barriers in the screening process, according to a new report from the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana. People of color and domestic violence survivors are some of the most impacted.
The report pulls from data collected in Indianapolis. In a housing market already near capacity, the screening process eliminates even more people from securing housing, and advocates say rental laws in Indiana offer very little protection.
Indianapolis, like most of the country, is facing a housing crisis. According to a new report by the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, people who live along the margins are most at risk of losing the housing they have or finding it.
“This report highlighted in our very tight rental market, where there aren’t many vacancies,” said FFCCI executive director Amy Nelson.
She says tenant screening barriers create particular problems for black, immigrant, renters, people with disabilities, criminal histories, and domestic violence survivors.
“There may be times where the individual actually hasn’t done anything wrong.”
According to the report, credit scores, stringent criminal screenings, evictions, and even eviction filings kept people from securing housing. Due to vague screening policies, people are spending lots in application and hold fees.
Nelson says actual eviction and eviction filing often hold the same weight.
“There’s no protection currently in Indiana related to that, but it’s ridiculous right. Especially if it ends up getting worked out between them and the landlord. Again, it could have been a retaliatory eviction for contacting public health. It could have been any number of factors.”
Nelson says for years, housing advocacy agencies have been pushing against data scraping, where companies rush to collect data to ultimately sell.
Data that isn’t always true, such as mismatched names, expunged records being considered, and distorted reports
“Their record should not have had the entries on it, and the result was individuals having to spend some time trying to get that corrected.”
Nelson says such barriers makes navigating a difficult rental market all the more challenging.
Fair housing representatives say if you’ve recently been denied based on your rental history, they’d like to interview you.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis says it’s expanding efforts to track anti-Semitic acts and keep communities safer, opening its most recent incident report form earlier this year.
It’s part of a national effort to coordinate online incident reporting and follow-up. Jewish representatives say they aren’t alone in this as many groups are seeing increase in reports of hate.
“If You See Something, Say Something” is a copyrighted phrase that began in New York after 9/11. The Jewish Federation of Greater Indianapolis leaders hope more people act on following the phrase’s message, providing online incident reporting forms to get it done.
Jeff Linkon with the Jewish Federation told News 8, “These consistent increases are in reaction to the ever-increasing alarming rates of incidents targeted not only at the Jewish community but other nonprofit organizations.”
He said anti-Semitic reports nationally and in Indiana have increased. “Let’s not forget that it was only a couple of years ago that one of our own synagogues here in Carmel was the target of an attack.”
A 21-year-old from a Morgan County community was sentenced to three years in prison for the Carmel synagogue attack in July 2018.
The incident reporting tool is part of the Safe Indy Security Initiative of the Jewish Federation. The tool helps to identify threats, assaults, property damage, suspicious phone calls and emails, and more. Intelligence professionals will review feedback through the incident reports to disseminate to organizations.
“Really no incident is too small. We see all types of reporting,” Linkon said.
He says feedback has already helped thwart anti-Semitic plans, and he hopes this tool helps stop it all. “We’re not only focused on safeguarding our own community but really elevating the entire faith-based community and bringing an end to hate here locally in Indianapolis and throughout the state.”
The Jewish Federation on Thursday will host the hourlong “State of Antisemitism with ADL Midwest,” which is free to the public although registration is required.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Flanner House is building on its commitment to the community with an element focused on overall health, with hope it helps strengthen Indianapolis’ urban core.
The Flanner House is in its 125th year of service to the Indianapolis black community, and they are taking aim at two types of barriers: Food insecurity and access to mental health care. It’s another step to improve overall outcomes in the community.
Flanner House is rooted in the community. It’s a path that’s been more than a century in the making.
“There are days where I walk in and I am completely humbled,” said Brandon Cosby, CEO of Flanner House.
Cosby says there’s much more in bloom: Commercial green houses adding to a six-year-old farming operation.
“Part of what we began talking about is how can we continue to make sure they were offering affordable, healthy food options. we begin to embark on this process of finding a location to be able to build a greenhouse operation,” Cosby said.
In a given year, roughly 50,000 pounds of produce are harvested, but Indiana winters quickly put a stop to growing season. The greenhouses opens them up for a year around growth season, helping keep the nearby Cleo’s Bodega stocked.
“There’s a tendency to talk about what’s not here and what’s not available. In the neighborhood and a community that is on it’s journey back to being vivacious and fruitful, you have to have the amenities that are available right there in the community.”
While construction wraps up on the greenhouses. Crews are making quick work on Morning Star: A brand new mental health facility at the corner of West 23rd Street and Doctor M.L.K. Jr. Street.
“If you really want to talk about having an impact on the neighborhood and in a community that has been impacted by violence, that has been impacted by trauma, then we have to be able to have centers available for people to be able to heal.”
Data shows black men find it hard to find adequate mental health. Black men are 20 times more likely to be misdiagnosed, and 30 times more likely to be improperly medicated.
“If I walk in and sit down with a therapist, who culturally is not aligned with me, who may not be familiar with the values in the norms within the black community. There’s a level of responsibility that gets put on the person who came there for care.”
Cosby says the therapist will have that vital cultural connection to community.
The ribbon cutting for the greenhouse and mental health center will occur on Juneteenth.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Capturing the history, culture, and excitement of the race sometimes needs a little creative support. Five central Indiana artists are putting their own twist on it.
The Indianapolis 500 is etched into the fabric of the city, and the artists in many cases etch their own version onto canvas. The Arts Council has been promoting the project Welcome Race Fans since 2016 in partnership with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with no plans of slowing down.
You can feel it in the air and see it. Indy is ready to welcome race fans to the greatest spectacle in racing.
“I think Welcome Race Fans and the artist involved in the race weekend is just another important layer of involvement in our community,” said Kate Oberreich, artist engagement coordinator with the Arts Council.
For yet another year, five central Indiana artists are drawing the road map. Using their art to narrate, the culture, history, and excitement of the Indy 500.
Artist Scott Johnson said, “There’s just so much behind it. In one way it’s a little daunting to try to figure out. How do you design a poster that gets all of that in there.”
Johnson is one of the artists who hoped his work would be strong enough to meet the goal. He figured it out and his design is plastered outside the Artsgarden.
“I turned west on Washington and Bam! That thing just hit me. And it was kind of staggering,” he said.
The Welcome Race Fan banners and artwork is posted around the city. Key viewing locations at IMS, the airport, and the Artsgarden. Artists were given the “This is May” but had free reign over their design.
“I was really drawn to the older vintage type of cars. And especially that 1950 style one,” said artist Julie Xiao about her design.
It’s a major platform, and one, Xiao can appreciate for the access to public art and artist exposure.
“I think it’s super important because we bring a different kind of perspective and different kind of cultural aspects to it as well,” she said.
The Arts Council says it’s important a variety of artists express themselves on this platform. As our city will welcome varied race fans from all corners of the city and world.
Oberreich said, “We believe that artists are natural storytellers, and should be involved in all aspects of the community.”
The original pieces are for sale and posters are free while supplies last.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — More minority and advocacy groups are joining with the NAACP, and urging black people and other communities of color to avoid traveling to Florida.
There have been warnings about record levels of travel for Memorial Day, but the one from the NAACP has a much different tone. The NAACP travel advisory starts with a clear stance: Florida is openly hostile toward African-Americans, people of color and LGBTQ+ individuals.
Word came out Wednesday that one parent’s complaint pushed a Florida school to restrict access to Amanda Gorman’s book “The Hill We Climb.” She delivered the poem during President Biden’s inauguration.
The NAACP argues in recent weeks a collection of laws and other measures have been passed in Florida to erase black history and restrict diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. Other measures include gender-affirming treatment restrictions.
Doneisha Posey is an attorney in Indiana and law professor at the IU McKinney School of Law. She specializes in topics of race in law, housing discrimination, and segregation. She says we’ll often see other states pass similar laws once a precedent is set.
“It is perpetuating an incomplete or inaccurate understanding of our collective path. Black, white, brown, all races. Not only does it undermine the experiences of black individuals, but also hinders our efforts to ward a more inclusive and truthful educational system.”
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) issued a similar warning after new immigration laws were passed.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has not given an official response to the travel warning, although his spokesperson has referred to it as a stunt.
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Older adults at a Zionsville apartment complex say they are being pushed out, and the stress they say of finding somewhere to live in the middle of a housing crisis is too much to bear.
Roughly 40 older adults, their supporters and even state lawmakers on Tuesday filled the area outside BHI Senior Living headquarters in Indianapolis to hand-deliver a petition asking the apartments’ operators to reconsider their decision to not renew their U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development contract.
Supporters say they’ve been reaching out to BHI for several months with no word.
Older residents of Crawford Manor apartments say they can’t wait any longer for answers. They showed up at BHI Senior Living, the agency that owns the apartments to get answers.
In a brief exchange outside the building, BHI representatives spoke with residents in what appeared at times contentious.
In February, the residents in the 100-unit Zionsville complex were given notice to move out to make way for demolition.
Residents say Asians make up around a quarter of the population in the apartment complex. Cong Wang and is one of the older adults who after 14 years will have to find somewhere else to go.
Through an interpreter he said, “Some of us have lived here for about more than 10 years, but the longest resident is more than 20 years already.”
Housing advocates say the plans for demolition come as BHI decided against renewing its contract with HUD. For 40 years, they say, Crawford Manor has been part of an HUD-subsidized contract for low-income older adults.
Hoosier Action representatives; state Rep. Becky Cash, a Republican from Zionsville, and state Sen. J.D. Ford, a Democrat from Indianapolis, helped the older adults deliver a petition of 1,000 signatures asking BHI to change course.
“Because of the age and also because of the health issues, many of us cannot drive,” Wang said.
Sherri Kelley struggles with mobility and says she’s been trying to find somewhere else to live, but the places she found aren’t suited to meet her needs. “We feel they’re think we’re old, and we could just lay down and die,” she said.
“I’ve never been one to stand back and watch injustice.”
BHI says they’ve been transparent with residents.
For now, the older adults and their supporters will wait for a response to see what’s next for them.
“BHI takes the concerns of these residents seriously and will respond to their request for a meeting. After fulfilling our nearly 40-year agreement with HUD, the decision was made not to renew the contract and to close Crawford Manor in mid-2024. All reasonable efforts are being made to assist residents who request support throughout the transition process. We will continue to provide this assistance until Crawford Manor closes.”Nancy Nelson, vice president of public relations and communications, BHI
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) is packed with excitement, but for some race fans, it can be an overwhelming shock to the senses. A local non-profit is making free sensory backpacks available for the first time.
Today’s Champions have delivered over 100 sensory bags to IMS. They say this work has been 30 years in the making. their son, who has autism, inspired this work, and they hope the sensory bags removes the fear and helps others find love in racing.
The sound and reverberation is what you hear and feel first when you step inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That’s what many people wait for, but for others on the spectrum, it may be a lot to take.
“It can be kind of scary. You have fast cars and a lot of big crowds,” said Beth Hodgin, Executive Director of Today’s Champions.
That was Beth and Ben Hodgin’s son’s experience when they first started bringing him to the track 30 years ago. Early on, they realized he had a love for racing and sports, and figured out ways to let him enjoy those activities, while easing the anxiety of it.
“He has autism, and we have been coming out to the race track since he was a teeny tiny baby.”
Their work with him inspires the work they do today with their nonprofit Today’s Champions. They started sharing sensory bags.
“The main thing was definitely the headphones. They’re not fancy with music, but they definitely cancel out a lot of the noises that make people anxious, and a pair of fun sunglasses. They are plastic and can bend about in any which way, and we have two items inside the backpack that are for hands,” she said.
In partnering with IMS, they’re providing them for the first time at the track.
“How do we adapt to something that is bright, loud, and crowded with so many different things going on?” said Ben Hodgin.
Their son doesn’t need the sensory bag today, but others might. All families have to do it. Ask someone in a yellow IMS shirt to show the way.
“It’s an experience and probably a little intimidating. You’re unsure and you don’t know how folks are going to react your children or someone with you. We hope that these bags help bring more folks to the Speedway.”
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — “Melanin in May” is in it’s second year. It’s a festival focused on spreading joy and raising awareness on mental health and addiction recovery in black communities, and other communities of color.
Representatives say if they can spread joy during a festival, they can spread information that may save lives.
It’s nearing the time for the second annual “Melanin in May” festival. Music artist Fliparachee is one of many to hit the stage, but his music isn’t the only message he’s sending. Roughly 16 percent of black people struggle with mental health, with some turning to suicide or drug use.
Having experienced loss, he’s hoping to spare others the same pain.
“Weirdo Gang apparel. it’s in memory of my friend #SoWeird, who lost his battle with depression. I’m pushing people in the the world to be themselves unapologetically and it’s ok to be you. be weird,” he said.
“Melanin in May” is a black-centered event that’s open to everyone. Packed with music, food, and vendors. This time around, there was room to expand it more.
Fliparachee began brainstorming with “Melanin in May” founder Dominic Dorsey on ways to heighten awareness during Mental Health Awareness Month.
“The more that we silo and the more that we silence, the more toxicity that persist in our community. We are literally killing ourselves,” said Dorsey.
They developed a plan to support joy and support a growing black-led organization: Minority Recovery Collective Inc.
“I know that it is imperative for us and others like us to exist, because we actually take into account how systemic racism and oppression plays a part in our overall mental well-being,” said Natasha Cheatham, founder of Minority Recovery Collective Inc.
Shirts with the words “We are the weird ones” were created. One hundred percent of proceeds will go directly to the Minority Recovery Collective Inc.
“Words are very powerful, and we’re the ones who give words their power. To be able to take a word like weird and to own it, and to celebrate it,” said Iisha Wesley, Executive Director of Minority Recovery Collective Inc.
Fliparachee says while it’s important to feel joy, It’s important to not be afraid of all of our emotions and to share them with someone.
“We are spreading the joy, but we also have to spread the awareness of what’s going on in our community too.”
The free festival is May 27 on the city’s eastside at CAFE (Community Alliance of the Far Eastside).
CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — There’s a push to provide affordable housing for adults with disabilities in Carmel thanks to a development partnership between Village at Merici and Old Town Companies.
It’s happening at an apartment complex that is under construction. Representatives hope it serves as a prototype that inspires other developers.
Over the course of the rest of the year, roughly 40 units will be available at the North End apartments for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, But it’s only a drop in the bucket as data shows roughly 5,000 around the state need housing like this.
The first phase of the North End apartment complex is well underway. In a matter of months, the first of 40 renters with intellectual and developmental disabilities will move in.
“Loneliness is the worst disability of all, so we want to be able to find a place where we can live near our friends, but have our own independence and have support that we need, and not necessarily be in a group home type setting,” said Colleen Renie, Executive Director of the Village at Merici.
It’s an agency focused on providing support services for adults with disabilities, in part by partnering with developers to provide attainable and affordable housing.
“As a community, we need to find ways to support that group of individuals. Those that have financial challenges and also social challenges.”
In the last year, Renie says rent rates have gone up by 27 percent in Indianapolis and Carmel areas.
Most adults with intellectual and development disabilities often sit at the lower levels of poverty.
“Several are still living at home with their family members who might be 70 or 80 years old, and it’s very challenging for them. If something happens and they’ve lived at home for 50 or 60 years and try to move out, it’s very difficult.”
So for this project, they are partnering with developers Old Town Companies. Tax credits through the Indiana Housing and community development helps offer these units at a fraction of the costs.
More than 200 people showed interests, but through a lottery the 40 units have already been claimed.
“I think it’s a human need to be loved and to have a sense of belonging. That’s universal, and we want to respond to that need,” said Rebecca McGuckin, Community Collaborator at Old Town Companies.
On top of the lower market rental rates, technology access is built into the model, providing wi-fi and remote support options for the 40 people who’ll eventually move in.
“I hope we prove the concept to others where they will be inspired to do the same because it gives value to human life, and we want to participate in that.”