City commits $3.5M for downtown safety, cleanliness efforts

The city of Indianapolis is allocating $3.5 million to address safety and cleanliness issues downtown, it announced Thursday.

Mayor Joe Hogsett said during news conference announcing the funding that the endeavor will support efforts by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department, Department of Public Works and the Office of Public Health and Safety, as well as civic group Downtown Indy Inc.

“There’s a lot we’re looking forward to in downtown—and that’s not an accident. It’s the result of a lot of hard work from people across city agencies and organizations,” Hogsett said during his public remarks. “So today, we’re here to say in one voice, the best of Indy is still downtown, the place where it all began.”

The money—remnants of the city’s $420 million from the American Rescue Plan Act—is expected to help pay for several initiatives for about 18 months.

IMPD’s initiatives include increasing overtime shifts for bike patrol officers, as well as new mobile security cameras and a grant program for small to mid-sized businesses hoping to tap into the IMPD b-link program, which forms a network of nearly 130 downtown cameras and 22 license plate readers aimed at reducing crime. The grant program is expected to launch in early 2023.

The Office of Public Safety in early 2023 is expected to launch the city’s first-ever clinician-led response team for individuals experiencing temporary or chronic homelessness. The team, will coordinate the effort with Downtown Indy Inc., which plans to work with service providers to hire social workers and other support staff. The initiative coincides with other ongoing city and not-for-profit efforts to develop permanent housing solutions for homeless individuals and families. The team will operate 24 hours per day.

DPW plans to designate a crew focused on downtown cleanliness and maintenance, including in alleyways and other problem areas. Additional sidewalk power washing is expected to be part of the initiative, as well as additional trash cans aimed at reducing litter. Downtown Indy Inc. plans to increase the number of cleaning ambassadors in the Mile Square.

The city also plans to add a new public restroom to its safe food distribution site.

City-County Council President Vop Osili said he believes the funding will go a long way in beautifying downtown, which he acknowledged suffered extensively during the pandemic.

“Downtown Indianapolis belongs to and serves our entire city as an economic engine, as a hub for arts and culture and as a seat of local and state government,” he said. “Downtown is both a keeper of our city’s history and a driver of its future. These investments in health, safety and beauty of downtown help ensure that we step into that future with our best foot [forward], because forward is absolutely the direction downtown Indianapolis is going.”

The partnership with Downtown Indy on the project is the single-largest commitment the city has made to the organization in several years.

Taylor Schaffer, CEO of Downtown Indy Inc. and former deputy mayor under Hogsett, said the organization’s relationship with the administration is strong, and believes the funding presents another opportunity for Downtown Indy to step up and take on some big challenges.

“Downtown Indy historically has stepped up in the ways that made sense for downtown at that moment in time,” she said. “But we want to ensure that continues and accelerates over the next 18 months, knowing that we’re about to be the host city for so many major events in that period … [we] really want to see that momentum continue downtown. That’s what these funds, and specifically this programming, is intended to do.”

Through early 2024, Indianapolis is expected to host more than 400 conventions and events, such as the 2024 NBA All-Star Game, the USA Swimming 2024 Olympic Trials and two Big Ten Conference football championship games.

“And so I hope this infusion of support will help change perceptions,” Hogsett said. “Whenever I talk to visitors who come to Indianapolis, they are blown away by our downtown—how safe it is, how clean it is; so much different than maybe the communities where they’re coming from. I take a great sense of pride in that. We want downtown to always be the heart of the city.”

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23 thoughts on “City commits $3.5M for downtown safety, cleanliness efforts

    1. JJ Frankie-
      Whether completely accurate or not, IPS is very top heavy in administration.
      That said, it’s not completely IPS’s fault. State and federal guidelines
      and regulations are a big contributor to the administration’s bloat.

  1. Not clear on who Hogsett is talking to about downtown but he’s completely out of touch. Mass Ave might be fine but it’s discouraging when you can’t take a walk around the circle / surrounding blocks and feel safe. Stairwells filled with homeless and stepping over them walking to work. Half the restaurants are gone and half of the mall space is dark. Our downtown has been neglected since April 2020.

    1. David M. –
      Agreed completely. Our downtown does not feel safe around the Convention Center going west to Pennsylvania Street and up to the Circle.
      The homeless and beggars in that area are horrible. The Mall Parking Lot
      is thilthy and homelesss sleeping and crapping in the stairwells.

      Also, the sidewalks and alleys are thilthy in that area also.

      Very disappointing, because downtown use to have a reputation as being safe
      and clean.

      As you also stated the area around the Circle and South Meridian Street Are
      thilthy also and in need of side walk and curb maintenance very badly.
      Many restaurants still closed.

      I bet out of towners that visit here can’t wait to get the hell out of downtown

      I get angry about our current situation in downtown because it didn’t use to
      be this way.

    1. If you would like to donate money from your personal funds or head up a petition to raise taxes to generate more revenue, you are welcome to do so. Money doesn’t come from thin air, it comes from taxes. And, taxes must pay for all public services *and* the infrastructure. And, with just the city’s infrastructure alone, it amounts to billions (with a “B’) of dollars in needed repairs/upgrades. So, you take what you can get or you figure out how to chip in more.

    2. Like I said $ 3.5 million it is a drop in the bucket for what is needed for sidewalk,
      curbs, and street repairs, and maintenance & cleanliness. If you have NOT noticed
      how bad it looks in certain parts of downtown,then go to the areas
      A). Between the convention center strsifgt east to Pennsylvania Street
      B). Monument Circle South to South Street

      Our reputation as a convention city will suffer also. Resulting in lost convention
      business and tourism.

      If the city does NOT come up with funding solutions, it will cost us much more in the long run. We will lose convention business and businesses will not move in
      or stay. In other words, losing far more in tax revenue than what it would have
      cost us to simply invest.

      When I moved to Indianapolis in the mid 80’s, it had a solid reputation for cleanliness and safety. Which in turn contributed to our success in developing
      Our convention and tourism.

      Maybe, we need more tax payers and maybe Jim Irsay needs to get a little less.

    3. I don’t need a lesson on taxes, revenue, and expenditures.
      point is maybe the city needs to reacess it’s priorities and reallocate certain funds.

    4. Then you also need to list what priorities need to be deprioritized and what areas need to be defunded.

      And, again, Marion County Republicans at the Statehouse could maybe spend more time trying to solve problems (like fixing the formula for funding so Indianapolis gets it’s fair share of money) instead of implying that Indianapolis has plenty of money and just spends it on the wrong things … knowing full well that their own state laws control how Indianapolis can move money around.

    5. Maybe you do need a budget lesson: The 2023 city budget is only $1.46 billion, not even enough to restore the city’s infrastructure to merely fair condition even if *all* of it went to capital improvements. But, of the entire budget, 36% goes to the police and fire department’s alone. Another 7% goes to the courts, prosecutor & public defender. Then, you have 20% going to roads, bridges, etc, and another 11% going to storm water improvements. That’s already 3/4 of the budget, and you have to fund the health department, parks, coroner, etc.

      And, yes, I agree Irsay, Simon, etc, should all pay for themselves, but it seems the public is always happy to fork over their hard-earned money (or vote for people who will) to fund billionaire’s private endeavors, but very hesitant to pay for public services and infrastructure. Now, that money is spent and gone.

  2. A lot of people on here have argued for a couple years that downtown is safe and clean, nothing to see here. Now the city is admitting since they invited BLM and Antifa to come and riot that it has never been the same. It’s going to take a lot more money than this to just get Starbucks back. Good Luck and as always, so sad.

    1. You lose a Starbucks on Monument Circle, that is very bad. How many other
      businesses are in trouble in that area also.

    2. Thank you donald, of course they’ll get on here and say that the city and DPW don’t know what they’re talking about.

    1. It’s not just the streets downtown. It’s also the sidewalks and curbs that need a
      lot of attention and maintenance also.

  3. As someone who lives downtown, there are a lot of suburbanites talking about an area they rarely frequent. I have never felt unsafe walking at any time of night in the mile square. Starbucks has 4 other downtown locations and their closure is just a political tantrum. There is room for improvement, but the dramatics and speculations are laughable. We need resources for downtown and residents. This is a good start, but will need ongoing support.

    1. Chase,
      More vacancies on the Circle. How many do you need to understand that there is
      a problem.

    2. Why are people like you so convinced these people are suburbanites, or only suburbanites? That’s kind of a weak rebuttal non it’s face anyway. Kind of oddly gatekeepy.

    3. I’ve never felt unsafe either thanks to Indiana’s concealed carry laws. But to live downtown and say that there isn’t a dire and very dangerous homeless problem(mostly inclusive of those who sadly suffer from a variety of addictions and mental health disorders), tells me that you A) don’t actually live downtown, or B) haven’t left your Conrad condo in over a year. Those of us who *actually* live downtown are growing tired of a bi-monthly sidewalk meeting with a drugged-out schizophrenic and/or dodging human feces in one of several stairwells.

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