INDIANAPOLIS – A new policy brief from the Center for Research on Inclusion and Social Policy examines homelessness in Marion County and provides policy solutions to address the issues that cause homelessness. This policy brief comes on the heels of the 2022 Point-in-Time Count, released by CRISP in collaboration with the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention.
Researchers compared Indianapolis to four similar cities—Charlotte, North Carolina; Columbus, Ohio; Fort Worth, Texas; and Nashville, Tennessee—to examine homeless populations. They found that, since 2016, Indianapolis has ranked in the middle of the pack for both the number of people experiencing homelessness and the per capita homelessness rate.
The report also examined factors affecting homelessness in Marion County. Those include a dwindling housing/rental market combined with rising housing/rental costs, specific laws and ordinances that criminalize homelessness, recent increases in youth homelessness, and a lack of facilities and support systems to house and help those experiencing homelessness.
CRISP researchers developed a list of policy considerations for local, state, and federal leaders, including:
- Increase the housing supply: Pass federal legislation to provide more funding to Housing and Urban Development projects, expand and extend Indiana’s Affordable Housing Tax Credit, and utilize local zoning laws to promote construction of more diverse housing options.
- Limit legislation that criminalizes homelessness: Revoke state laws and local ordinances that target or place significant restrictions on those experiencing homelessness, increase state funding to programs that waive court fees for those in poverty—and are thus at a higher risk for homelessness—and provide federal rewards to jurisdictions that reform legislation targeting homeless communities.
- Invest in infrastructure for homeless populations: Increase the number of federal Section 8 housing vouchers, provide state funding and incentives to create more permanent supportive housing and rapid rehousing developments, and monitor monthly or quarterly changes in local homeless populations to respond more quickly to changes.
- Address issues causing youth homelessness: Reinstate the federal expanded advanced Child Tax Credit payments, strengthen state partnerships to work with McKinney-Vento school liaisons to support families in/near homelessness, and consider using a two-generational local approach to addressing youth homelessness.
- Expand social safety nets: Make the federal Earned Income Tax Credit expansion permanent, increase benefits from and decrease eligibility requirements for state support programs, expand local assistance programs offered during COVID-19 and make them permanent.