Leaders in area counties are hoping that by collaborating on solutions to homelessness, more people can be helped in a shorter period of time.

Region 9 Planning Council, a part of Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority, in collaboration with Indiana Community Action Poverty Institute, has released a strategic plan to alleviate housing instability. Region 9 includes Wayne, Union, Rush, Franklin and Fayette counties. 

The plan shows that at least 86 people were experiencing homelessness while 56 houses are available as either emergency shelters, permanent housing or rapid rehousing in 2023 in Wayne County. The plan provides steps for counties in the region to improve information sharing and pooling of resources. 

“Social services or the police or local government can’t do this alone. There needs to be collaboration across all these different sectors to actually have a robust system that works for everybody,” said Elisa Worland, secretary of the Region 9 Planning Council and community development/health & human sciences extension educator from Purdue Extension. 

The plan started as a housing work group in Wayne County two years ago. Worland said working across county lines has historically seen challenges with communication, data collection, tooling and training, so counties have often limited their collaboration.

With the support of a grant from the Indiana Department of Health, the council collaborated with the Indiana Community Action Poverty Institute and conducted quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis. The strategic plan also includes insights into 11 individuals who are affected by homelessness and housing instability inside Region 9. It reflects secondary research after collecting another 35 interviews of service providers and community leaders as well. 

The plan’s vision is to ensure residents in the region “will have access to safe, stable, quality, and affordable homes and community connections that allow them to be self-sufficient and active citizens.” It has four goals for homelessness and housing instability reduction and prevention, and aims to initiate nine programs. One of the projects is providing support with transportation for better access to services, introducing a “Catch-a-Ride” program. 

The council will discuss implementation and timeline of the programs in its next meeting in July.

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A version of this article appeared in the June 12 2024 print edition of the Western Wayne News.