Homeless on Georgia Street

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A growing homeless population has migrated to a venue intended for downtown visitors.  This is a tricky situation because Georgia Street is open space - open to everyone. But some sections, according to safety officials, are being overtaken by homeless.

On the western end of the street, near the Convention Center, meals are served to homeless at St. John's Catholic Church.  After the meals, the area serves as a hangout.  Indianapolis Downtown Inc., which manages Georgia Street and is trying to turn it into an entertainment venue for tourists and downtown visitors, is trying to keep the space open. They say there's nothing wrong with the homeless gathering there.  But they do want to cut down on excessive loitering. 

"There is more pedestrian traffic down there," according to IDI's Bettye Dobkins, "which is what we're going for, and yes, the police are aware of those problems and they are addressing those issues and working with different outreach groups."

On Monday, a homeless man was arrested for stabbing another homeless person on Georgia Street.  This happened during daylight hours, which is certainly not the norm. Those who promote Georgia Street hope the stabbing is an isolated incident.   

The city invested $12-million to revamp and re-energize the street in time for the Super Bowl. Many here hope this issue can be contained so it doesn't become a serious problem. 

"It's kind of like a public telephone," Dobkins said. "When we used to have public telephones, where you limited your conversation so that other people would have access to it. And we would hope that anyone that sits at the tables and chairs would limit their time at that space so that other people can enjoy it too."