City to close Monument Circle to homeless camps

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The city of Indianapolis posted this notice around Monument Circle on Monday, giving homeless residents 15 days to remove their belongings from the area. (IBJ photo/Lesley Weidenbener)

The city’s Office of Public Health and Safety is closing Monument Circle to homeless encampments, giving residents who’ve been sleeping and living in and around the monument until Jan. 12 to clear their personal items from the area.

The move comes as nearby business owners have complained for months about an increase in homeless activity around the Circle. It also comes as homeless shelters have seen an increase in the number of people seeking emergency shelter.

On Monday, the city posted notices around Monument Circle alerting residents to the deadline. The notice states that the sidewalk on the outer loop of Monument Circle is public property and a public right of way and that starting at noon Jan. 12, the area will be closed to camping and storage of personal property.

Mark Bode, deputy communications director for Mayor Joe Hogsett, said the impetus behind the notice is that “encampments and storage of personal property in the Circle are blocking pedestrian traffic and causing disruption to nearby businesses.”

The city’s Homeless Bill of Rights ordinance requires the city to give homeless residents 15 days’ notice before displacing them from a camp. It also requires the city to store their belongings for 60 days and connect people with services.

The notice states that the Department of Public Works will provide the homeless with storage bins and will store their belongings for up to 60 days and that the Professional Blended Street Outreach Teams, the IMPD Homeless Unit and other service providers “will make every effort” to provide temporary or permanent housing options to anyone who has been camping in the area.

After noon on Jan. 12, unaccompanied items found in the area—other than valuables or items that are labeled with a person’s name—can be removed or thrown away if they are determined to be trash or abandoned property.

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36 thoughts on “City to close Monument Circle to homeless camps

  1. I have this crazy idea that no one should be able to permanently establish a camp on public property, and if one springs up it should be dispatched within a pretty short time to ensure public safety and quality of life.

  2. I hope this is the first step in a thoughtful plan to address homelessness in our downtown. “Spot” fixes will not rebuild the image of a safe downtown Indianapolis. I have seen the individuals sleeping on Monument Circle for years. As an advocate for the City I found it shocking that this was tolerated. I have also seen individuals sleeping on the memorial to Martin Luther King along the Cultural Trail. Could there be a greater call to action?

    The City, in cooperation with Wheeler Mission, needs to move homeless services away from the city center which counts on tourism, plus attendance at sporting events and concerts. We really don’t have any other choice. Our leaders need to step up.

    1. Are you arguing it should be illegal to be homeless?

      It is not illegal to sleep on the street in Indianapolis, to make a law to say otherwise with be pretty intense government overreach…

  3. Thank you for taking this step to improve the downtown, it’s long over due. Homelessness is a difficult issue to solve, but allowing people to stay on city sidewalks doesn’t help the people living on the street, or help in finding a solution for our city.

  4. Quote: The notice states that the sidewalk on the outer loop of Monument Circle is public property and a public right of way and that starting at noon Jan. 12, the area will be closed to camping and storage of public property.

    Shouldn’t the last words be, “…camping and storage of private property,” not public property?

  5. Rhea, John, 21R, Bruce, Ted, – all very thoughtful comments. Thank you !
    Vincent, to answer your question … NO ONE is running Indianapolis.
    I am not bragging – but as a significant donor to Wheeler Mission for many, many years, I truly believe they offer the best solution.
    The worst solution … to let the homeless over run the very center of our city.
    Mayor Hogsett has cost our lovely City MILLIONS in property damage and lost business.
    And he cost Chris Beaty his life.
    Good job Joe. !

    1. Thanks Don. I hope we can convince Wheeler, which does do great works of charity, to do what is right for the city. Downtown is not what it what when Wheeler expanded years ago in a dying downtown.

  6. And we expect conventions to come to our downtown. What a flaming joke. Where is Bill Hudnut when we need him? We have traveled back to the 60’s in one inept mayor’s administration.

    1. Bill Hudnut? Nice man, and my mother worked for his administration several decades ago. However, he left Indianapolis in the early 1990’s, after practically being chased out of town by the new Republican establishment (boy, did Goldsmith and his cronies screw things up!). And, Hudnut died over four years ago. In any event, let’s stop living in the past, Indianapolis not only needs to move beyond the 1970’s and 80’s, but also past the pre-pandemic days. Many things changed this year, and the city needs to be nimble and adapt to the new the realities.

  7. The Hogsett Administration should not be applauded. It and it alone created the problem. Now they want us to acknowledge that they r doing something. Nothing like setting up a straw man. The Mayor and every democratic city councilman should be recalled. They are the ones who passed the homeless bill of rights. They r incompetent.

  8. I think that the City Council should be lumped in with the incompetence of the city administration. They passed the Homeless Bill of Rights and continue to facilitate the problems downtown. Homeless camps on public property is not a solution. I wonder how much crime is tolerated in the name of compassion. The whole mess is dragging the city down and, at some point, will be irreversible.

  9. These comments are both hilarious and sad. It’s hilarious that most of you don’t realize this is a problem in almost every American city. This is a national problem that requires a federal response. It’s sad that most of you lack compassion for those with mental illness/addiction problems. Moving them from Monument Circle isn’t a solution at all. The only solutions are providing proper mental health services, and building subsidized housing for the homeless. A workforce training program needs to go along with both of those. Unfortunately, the City doesn’t have nearly enough funds to do that alone. Congress needs to step up and fix America’s homeless crisis. You can’t simply criminalize homelessness.

    1. Thanks for this. The homeless don’t just “go away.” As noted, many are mentally ill, have drug issues that need to be solved professionally, or are so down on their luck they just don’t see the point. No, they shouldn’t be allowed to camp out on our streets. But what are the alternatives? The shelters don’t let them stay during the day and often are at capacity. To those who talk tough I ask, “What are your practical solutions that the courts will allow?”

    2. At last, rational comments that show: (i) understanding of the homelessness problem; and (ii) compassion for those less fortunate than ourselves. Many, if not most of them, suffer from mental illness and addiction. A large number of these people are women sometimes with children who have fled an abusive situation. A significant portion of them are veterans, who may be suffering from PSD. Another source of homelessness is the unemployment caused by the pandemic, the handling of which Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress have totally screwed up. It is easy to criticize but difficult to propose solutions. Moving the homeless off the Circle doesn’t do away with the problem; it simply moves them to another place. To those of you who have written critical comments on this story, what is your solution to homelessness by the mentally ill and and those with addiction, by people/families who have been bankrupted by the cost of necessary medical care, by women who have been abused, and by those who either are chronically unemployed or who have become unemployed due to the pandemic?

  10. There has to be guidlines set for any and everything when dealing with social issues of an urban city.I know many activist groups will be crying foul but at some point city leaders have to make hard decisions that benefits the city as a whole. Remember a successful city is one that can balance everything from political,social and fincancial.I have no issue with the city doing what it needs to do to protect its image and commers.This is why the should allow designated areas that a specific for homeless camps.Theres plenty of unique and creative ideas like converting storage containers and abandon buildings into living spaces for the homeless.Some cities are investing in tiny houses.Indy should every option thats out there and activist need to be willing to understand that something has to be do and just letting homeless people invade downtown is never a good look at all.

  11. Well said Kevin. In my earlier comments I was asking the reader to separate the cause of homelessness from how we handle it. Most cities do not have their social service agencies in the center of town. Yes, we need to address this horrible problem, but please separate the issues. Other cities I visit do not have people camping on main streets, yet they aren’t any less benevolent. In some cases they are doing a better job of helping those that need help. I saw this in Milwaukee recently where a camp was broken up and people were placed with services.

  12. The notices are not to residents they are for the benefit of squatters. The homeless shelters are not full. These people choose their alcohol, drugs, and homelessness over help. Some are mentally ill and the liberals closed the asylums because of inhumane treatment.

    1. I am kind of thinking that Indiana politicians were willing to close most of the state run institutional mental health facilities because they were expensive and were getting bad press. They just shoved the problem out onto the city streets and state politicians did not have to deal with it any more. It is obvious there is a need, and even more obvious in the economic downturn caused by an uncontrolled pandemic. The reason a lot of social service groups are clustered around downtown is that is were the public transit is. A lot of things could be different to prop up the social safety net and no city in the US can tackle the problem without state and federal support.

  13. Well hallelujah! Must have been a gut-wrenching decision for poor old Pothole Joe. Perhaps these nimrods that run the city should consider issuing a bill of rights for local businesses. For starters, the right to have your business protected by your city form looting and arson.

  14. A) Universal basic income is a concept whose time has come. If billionaires can grab an extra trillion dollars just during the pandemic, something is amiss and needs to be systemically addressed.
    B) I propose Indy downtown residents and businesses pony up to start a homeless shelter in Carmel. They want to be a real city. Time to get that fully realized. A bus line from downtown up to Homeless Carmel Central should be included. Branches in Greenwood, Brownsburg and elsewhere to follow.

    1. Quote: A) Universal basic income is a concept whose time has come.

      How idiotic. Pray tell, Richard S., where has Socialism worked for sustaining generations of any culture? With so many restaurants going out of business, where is there still a free lunch?

    2. What a surprise, to see a reactionary say “socialism” in response to a positive proposal that helps people! Never would have expected that! You clearly are a *thinker*.

  15. Lester M. Quote: Another source of homelessness is the unemployment caused by the pandemic, the handling of which Donald Trump and the Republicans in Congress have totally screwed up. It is easy to criticize but difficult to propose solutions.

    ‘Funny thing is, I’ve never heard one anti-Trumper, not a single one, say how the pandemic should have been handled differently. Lester, how about YOU offering what YOU believe are workable, concrete suggestions about what should have been done, rather than just throwing rocks at President Trump and “the Republicans?” You admit it’s easy to criticize but difficult to propose solutions, so you should offer one or more if you have better ideas about how the pandemic should have been handled.

    1. Bob, we could have just done what the other international power countries did…. and have resolved the majority of the covid issues…

      There are literal playbooks publicly available by countries that have replaced us as superpowers over the last 4 years on this issue…

    2. James M what other international countries should we model ourselves after? United kingdom? Germany? Sweden? Austrailia? New Zealand seems to be the only one to have averted a complete shut down of economy but did that by closing their borders. China lies and still doesn’t have it under control.

  16. Bruce B, thank you for your comments. I did catch your “in cooperation with Wheeler Mission” comment, but did not fully process it. But yes, the fact that Wheeler is located smack downtown, and has a policy that all 200 to 300 men must leave from 8AM to 4PM creates a “visitor perception” issue downtown – that I had not really considered before. But wow, moving the shelter further out of downtown would be a monumental (pun intended) task. It is a difficult situation indeed. Don.

  17. ‘Waiting for your answer as to where socialism has worked, Richard S. If “universal basic income” isn’t socialism, what is? Giving a “universal basic income” to people in return for NO productivity while others work and pay into the distribution pot is pure socialism, not “helping people.” People need to be fulfilled and, much as it may be difficult to believe, meaningful work and being rewarded for that work is true fulfillment.

  18. The entire mile square should be part of this executive order including the mayor governor & all city council men & women. Incude more than the circle Include every interstate & state highway ramp & island including city the police with state police, get a new public safety director immediately & clean up the 911 emergency and non emergency phone system. All police department under ONE police department. Focus on steam vents for homeless all sporting venues hotels retail & the mall and ALL Restaurants. We’re is the leadership? In rehab? 50 years of downtown development & convention business & sporting events destroyed. Downtown is not safe for you & for me. I do not feel safe in any parking garage or going to ANY restaurants or events.
    Enough Saud
    William Van Talbott
    The Talbott family of Talbott Street.

  19. This is not the solution for the homeless. Maybe living one day on administrator’s sidewalk in front of their home might help them feel what is going on at my house at Pine and E Georgia. Just drive down that street. I’ve written them all several times. just don’t get out of your car. You may be bit by a rat.
    Its all true.
    Come on all you do good politicians. DO SOMETHING.