By BRADEN LAMMERS
Ten years from now the issue will still exist, but on Wednesday, a step was taken to draft a plan to help the homeless.
Jeffersonville’s Board of Public Works accepted two proposals, subject to contract approval, to help develop a 10-year plan to address homelessness in the area.
“We’ve been putting together a request for proposal because we feel that we need to have a plan put together to identify what services are available, what gaps there may be in that service and to get some more comprehensive data,” said Jill Saegesser, executive director of River Hills and member of Jeffersonville’s homelessness task force.
The six-person group was formed in Jeffersonville last year in the wake of city sweeps of homeless camps, in which those living in the camps were not notified before the city cleared out the camps and their belongings. Following the unauthorized sweep, the organization was formed to develop a long-term solution to address the problems of the homeless, and also with the hopes of addressing the pending displacement and changing access related to the Ohio River Bridges Project and Big Four Bridge project that are changing access in the region.
According to the request for proposal sent out in October, the study will look at the nature and extent of homelessness in Clark, Floyd and Harrison counties and to develop a strategic plan to end homelessness in the next 10 years.
The requests for proposal were sent out to seven different entities that included both private contractors and universities. Three proposals were returned and two of those returning proposals were interviewed by the task force. It was determined by the task force that it would like to contract with both of those parties.
“We thought each of them had different expertise that we needed,” Saegesser said.
The two entities were the Applied Research and Education Center at Indiana University Southeast, which will develop the 10-year strategic plan, and Wendy Helterbran, who will complete the data collection element of the proposal. Helterbran has been completing similar counts for the Southern Indiana Housing Initiative to fulfill a mandate by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
“She has been, for the last five years, the point-in-time count coordinator for an eight county region in this area,” said Amy Burnette, attorney with Applegate, Fifer, Pulliam and task force member.
But the study that will be completed for Jeffersonville’s homelessness task force will be more extensive than the federally mandated counts.
According to the scope of work outlined in the plan, the consultants will be responsible for developing a comprehensive overview of who is homeless; identify resources existing within the community; conducting an analysis of trends in homeless populations within the past five years; looking at expected changes in homeless populations; and identifying attitudes and behaviors within the community that positively and negatively impact services to those exiting homelessness, as well as persons who may be on the brink homelessness.
A series of tentative deadlines were also released as part of the study and plan development —the first two, request for proposals and the proposal award, have been met. A completion date for the study was previously set for Feb. 28.
Funding to complete the study and plan came from the city’s Redevelopment Commission and the City Council, which allocated $30,000 . The total amount for the two contracts presented Wednesday totaled $27,710.
Official contracts are expected to be drafted and brought back to the board for official approval.