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Indianapolis homeless shelters bracing for dangerous cold

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – Subzero temperatures mean more and more people who struggle with homelessness are heading to shelters.

But one local homeless shelter had said it has trouble keeping up with demand during what it has called a crisis.

Because of that, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett planned to tour one of the hardest hit homeless shelters to see what can be done. 

Hogsett was initially scheduled to tour Wheeler Mission’s Women and Children Center, located on East Michigan Street on the city’s near east side, on Monday morning.

The visit was postponed, News 8 confirmed Sunday night; Hogsett said in a Tweet he had been called for jury duty.

News 8 first reported about the overcrowding at the Women and Children’s Center two weeks ago. 

The shelter was packed to capacity. The center opens up its gym every winter as part of the Indianapolis winter contingency plan to keep people safe from the cold.

Each night about 80 people spend the night on the gym floor, in addition to the 100 others in regular beds.

News 8 learned Hogsett had prioritized the visit to get a first-hand experience of the needs of service providers. Officials representing Wheeler Mission said Hogsett considers the rising homeless numbers a “crisis” and that’s what sparked his need to visit the facility.

Back in November, Hogsett announced a new $500,000 initiative to fight homelessness. Under the plan, half of the funding would go to housing organizations.

The city also wants to pay panhandlers to clean up litter and graffiti, especially in the downtown area. Wages would come from the expansion of metered parking hours the Indianapolis City-County Council passed this month. 

This all comes at a time when Wheeler Mission is considering building a multimillion-dollar, four-story expansion of its women and children’s center to help with the overcrowding issue.

Indianapolis residents in need are encouraged to contact “Connect2Help” by dialing 211.

Service providers and outreach coordinators are directing people to malls, libraries and Indy Parks facilities during normal business hours, city officials said. 

Homeless Shelter Coordination – Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP)
1100 W 42nd St, Suite 350

Salvation Army – Ruth Lilly Women and Children’s Center
540 N Alabama St
(317) 637-5551

Wheeler Mission – Shelter for Men provided by Wheeler Mission Ministries
520 E Market St
(317) 687-6975

Good News Men’s Shelter – Good News Ministries
2716 E Washington St
Must be 18+ with no shelter stays within past 30 days

Dayspring Center Shelter
1537 N Central Ave
(317) 635-6780
Homeless single parents or couples with children up to age 18

Holy Family Shelter – Catholic Charities Indianapolis
907 N Holmes Ave
(317) 635-7830