The countdown to the Super Bowl is on in Indianapolis. In February, tourists from around the world will descend upon the Circle City for football’s premier event. But as workers focus on revitalizing the city for its national debut, one segment of the population is feeling left out in the cold.
Homeless residents in Indianapolis fear that authorities will attempt to relocate them in an effort to make the city appear as clean and orderly as possible. And they have reason to worry. In the past, Super Bowl host cities such as Dallas and Jacksonville have also tried to keep their homeless off the streets during the main event.
But in Indianapolis, authorities claim that they have no plans of relocating the homeless, and instead will focus on bolstering panhandling laws and reaching out to the community to make sure they find the resources they need to avoid the chaos if they so desire.
“There certainly won’t be any forced relocation. We wouldn’t do that at all. Certainly we’ll address the issues. We will approach these individuals and work with these individuals in cooperation with other agencies,” IMPD Dep. Chief Mike Bates told local station RTV6.
While RTV6 reports that police might target the city’s unofficial homeless camp near downtown Indianapolis, which is only a few blocks away from the stadium, shelters in the area are taking a different approach to getting the 1,500 homeless citizens into their locations.
Michael Hurst with the Coalition for Homeless Intervention told station WTHR that several local organizations are planning to host Super Bowl events so they “feel welcome and included but not taken away from their homes.” This includes hosting meet-and-greets with the athletes, special dinners and Super Bowl viewing parties.
But despite the city’s best intentions, some people claim that they could still be doing more to help the homeless, especially in the long-term, using funds received from hosting the game. That may be true, but it’s not as if the money the city has received is being wasted. According to the Indianapolis Recorder, the funds have been earmarked for revitalizing the city’s Near Eastside, creating a community center, building new homes and rehabbing others. In Indianapolis, it seems the Super Bowl’s legacy will live on long after the game is over, in more ways than one.