Mission Spotlight 2023 – Homelessness in Central Indiana.

Can you imagine not having your own warm bed to sleep in? Can you picture trying to sleep in your car or in a homeless shelter? For most of us, it is incomprehensible. But for many in and near Indianapolis, it is a reality.

Safety net programs that kept low-income renters stably housed during the pandemic have ended. Employment wages are increasing but not as quickly as the cost of rental units. Ten of Indiana’s 20 largest occupations pay a lower median wage than a full-time Hoosier needs for the state’s Housing Wage (30% of income spent on housing) for a modest 2-bedroom apartment at the state’s fair market rent.  Evictions filed in the past year in Indianapolis totalled 27,563 with 2,303 in April 2023 alone. Families with children and black & brown Hoosiers are disproportionately harmed. 

Orchard Park Presbyterian Church has been a committed partner with Family Promise of Greater Indianapolis (formerly known as Interfaith Hospitality Network) for many years. Family Promise partners with congregations and community organizations responding to the crisis of children and their families who are homeless. It works to eliminate homelessness in Greater Indianapolis. If you would like to learn more about family promise or see how you can help, click here

After helping more than 1,500 Indianapolis families break the cycle of homelessness over the past 26 years by providing temporary housing in churches, Family Promise has fully transitioned to its Apartment Shelter Program this year. 24 apartments around Indianapolis are used as temporary homeless shelters for families with children while the families work with a case manager to secure permanent housing as soon as possible. Many of the families are then able to stay in the apartment and take over the lease and keep the furnishings.  However, if the family finds a new apartment, Family Promise provides a Mustard Seed referral for furniture and Goodwill vouchers for housewares. 

Where does OPPC fit into this new model? A portion of pledges – $7,000 – is paid directly to Family Promise to help cover operating expenses. Another portion – $3,000 – is used to fund housewares drives for the apartments, along with meal expenses. In October, OPPC members will sign up to prepare and deliver meals to several of the families. Hands-on occasions to ready apartments for occupancy are offered to the congregation, along with opportunities for individual contributions during its Night Without a Bed fundraiser. 

In addition to addressing immediate needs, advocacy is an essential component of Family Promise’s work as it helps to shape polices, raise awareness and foster collaborations that contribute to ending family homelessness. You, too, can be an advocate by learning more about homelessness and expressing your concerns to your elected representatives. Check out CHIP – Coalition for Homelessness Intervention & Prevention at www.chipindy.org for more information.

As a community of faith, let’s continue to raise our voices to demand warm and safe shelter for all humankind.   

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