Camp Out to Stamp Out Homelessness set for tonight

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Tonight, hundreds of families will spend the night in tents downtown to raise awareness for a growing problem in the city. The American Legion Mall will host the Camp Out to Stamp Out Homelessness and Music Fest.

Homelessness is a growing problem in Indianapolis - up five-percent this year compared to last, according the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention.

Of the more than 1,600 people counted as homeless in January, the biggest group were veterans, at an increase of 35-percent compared to last year.

There are also more families with children staying in shelters or transitional housing.

Wheeler Mission Ministries is hosting its annual camp out tonight to raise awareness -  and funds.

Former Colts punter Hunter Smith will be performing with his band and Eyewitness News Sports Director Dave Calabro will also spend the night in a tent.

Steve Kerr from Wheeler Mission said that drug and alcohol use is a major contributing factor that hinders veterans from finding their way back to society. "Most of them need an opportunity, not a handout," Kerr said.

Kerr said that the homeless population is generally younger and less-skilled than in the past.

Safe shelter and counseling are the keys to overcoming homelessness for many.