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Homeless Man

Source: Ryan Hedrick / WIBC

INDIANAPOLIS — Justin Rodgers has been homeless on the streets of Indianapolis for more than a decade. He said he was addicted to drugs, leading to his imprisonment. Rodgers said upon his release, he started drinking heavily and squandered opportunities for housing and employment. Unfortunately, Rodgers’ story is a common theme.


The Indiana Family and Social Services Administration’s Division of Family Resources estimates that around 88,000 individuals, including adults, youth, and children, are experiencing homelessness in Indiana.


“We have a shelter [in Indianapolis],” said Rodgers. “I won’t say anything bad about it, but I’ve been in it a lot, and I sure won’t say anything good about it. I’m living and sleeping on the streets, and plenty of resources and churches are passing out food, clothing, and stuff.”


Jana, who used to live in Indianapolis, now resides in Chicago. During her recent visit to the Circle City, she expressed her concerns about the numerous vacant homes that could be used to shelter the homeless population, which bothered her.


“I’m not politically inclined, I don’t have any knowledge about what we could do, but it seems like there’s a lot of homes, a lot of land, a lot of people, a lot of buildings, and there’s a lot of people on the streets,” she said. “I feel like if we built smaller homes in communities that we could invest in and put our resources as a community so that others could have a small place.”


Indianapolis native Charles has been homeless on and off for 9 years. He blamed the economy for his problems but also admitted that he’s suffered from drug and alcohol addiction as well.


“I did [use drugs], but I’m clean and sober now. Being clean and sober takes a lot of depression off me. Sometimes, a partner tells me I can come and take a hot shower, but it ain’t mine. On a typical day, I get up, try to find something to eat, and get a few dollars.”


Indianapolis resident Joseph insists there’s a different way to handle the homeless crisis.


“The concern is safety for them and for everyone else,” he said. “Beyond that, there could be a better way to handle this.”It is difficult because there are different situations, whether they’re addicted to drugs or just having a bad time.”