State Rep. Joe Taylor says Indiana is moving closer to stronger policy to combat homelessness in state

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INDIANAPOLIS – State Rep. Joe Taylor (D-South Bend) is playing a key role in a little-noticed initiative designed to combat homelessness across Indiana that is on the verge of becoming law.

Taylor is a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 242, legislation that would create the Indiana Housing First Program, which is designed to find housing and support services for our state’s homeless population. The legislation was passed 99-0 in the Indiana House earlier this week, and has advanced to Gov. Eric Holcomb for final approval.

“This legislation has not garnered the attention of other proposals before the Legislature, but I believe its long-term benefits are huge in dealing with one of the major problems facing our society,” Taylor said. “Indiana is very close to having a statewide policy that directly confronts the problems faced by homeless people and providing them with solutions.”

The program would provide housing and support services for eligible people who have a serious and persistent mental illness, a chronic chemical addiction, or a chronic and persistent mental illness with a co-occurring chronic chemical addiction.

“The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA) would be asked to create a plan by January 2018 that would move eligible people into housing, and give them support services that would include employment assistance and job training, treatment for substance abuse and addiction, help with education and gaining life skills, and treatment to help manage mental and physical health conditions,” Taylor said.

“For me, the place to start is by helping them find a place to live,” he continued. “Experts tell me that being homeless aggravates the problems that come from mental health and addiction. If we can give them a place to live, then we can help them get the access to counseling and other assistance that can help them regain control of their lives.”

Indiana Housing First is based on a program from Utah that succeeded in reducing the numbers of homeless people in that state to nearly zero.

“The best part of this program is that we aren’t simply throwing up our hands and acting as if there’s nothing we can do to address this problem,” Taylor said. “It provides a clear statement that government can help the homeless gain some hope that their situation can be corrected, and they can return to an active role in our society and have happy, productive lives. I believe we can eliminate homelessness and this program is the place to start. I am proud to have played a role in this legislation.”

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