Save the Date

I’ve written before about  Uncharted: The Truth Behind Homelessness.

The film focuses on how Indianapolis deals with its homeless population. It illuminates the issues that all major cities have to confront about their homeless citizens: downtown panhandling, homeless camps in the way of urban gentrification, underfunded human services, and endless debates over whether local government has an obligation to provide services to homeless people and if so, the nature of those services.

You won’t be surprised to learn that Indianapolis doesn’t do very well dealing with these issues–which may be why Mayor Ballard has thus far refused filmmakers’ invitations to view the documentary. That’s too bad; I have seen it twice, and I can attest to the fact that it is meticulously even-handed; interviews with a number of City representatives are included, and there are no “bad guys” hung out to dry.

Plus, it is a really gripping, well-done film.

The filmmakers, A Bigger Vision, have invited the community to attend one of two free screenings at the IMA on August 30th, at 1:00 pm and 4:00.

You can get tickets here.

You can see a trailer here.

The issues are anything but simple, and (despite the Mayor’s evident fears) their treatment is non-accusatory. Anyone concerned with the quality of life—let alone the quality of mercy– in Indianapolis should make an effort to attend one of the upcoming showings.


  1. The link worked for me.

    Might they put the video on-line so that those of us who haven’t the inclination to drive down from Fort Wayne might otherwise see it? I guess it is relevant, in general, to FW, Evansville, Gary and South Bend, to name a few.

  2. If Ballard doesn’t see the problem (any problem) with his own eyes, the problem doesn’t exist in this city. Read the John Touhy article on page A3 of today’s Star, “CIB APPROVES $5M FOR NATATORIUM REPAIRS” to understand his priorities and those of this administration. The only surprise in this issue for me is that it does not involve a ball. ..unless they play water basketball at the Natatorium.

    The face of the homeless has changed nationally the past few years due to the general condition of the economy; it is strongly evident here in Indianapolis due to joblessness, repossesed homes, minimum wage jobs, lack of health care, loss of food stamps, et al…and apathy on the part of the general population. Too many of these current faces resemble those who were homeless due to the Great Depression. The CIB and sports priorities is but a part of the problem; people don’t want to recognize homelessness because it is embarassing to them for unfathomable reasons or maybe they fear “there but for the grace of God go I”. I happened to know two of the downtown homeless in the 1980’s; they both had substance abuse problems, were too lazy to work and one was a former convicted criminal. His death from cancer on January 1, 2008, for some reason warranted a news column because he was known at the time (for some reason) as “the other mayor” and said to “hold court” with passers-by. Did this city help him? I doubt it. Was he viewed as different because he was in a wheelchair? I don’t know but I did know he didn’t end his criminal activities and had “bad feet” long before he suffered from cancer. Part of the problem is due to most people viewing all homeless as being homeless for the same reason my two friends were. Are their reasons now in the minority? I don’t know; I often gave a little to some of them when I worked downtown. It didn’t take away from my standard of living; I didn’t ask why they were homeless and panhandling on downtown streets – sadly, neither did I seek way to be of actually help to them as a segment of our society. I just remembered a third homeless man I knew; he worked in the Marion County Surveyor’s Office and suddenly wasn’t there, no one in the office knew what happened to him. I ran into him panhandling on Delaware Street; asked why he was doing this when he had a good job, he admitted he was schizophrenic and refused to take his medication. There are as many reasons for homelessness as there are excuses. Do these differences matter or should we just do what we can to help and not differentiate between the causes?

  3. I do wish I could come up and see it. I am the Homeless Community Development Specialist for the City of Evansville. Evansville is my hometown, but I lived in Indianapolis for a decade, before moving back to my hometown of Evansville.

    In Evansville, we get some kudos for being ahead of the curve and for actually working together, which is very scary in the sense that we have so much more we need to do. That said I am fortunate to see programs that work really well, yet underfunded. I am also very frustrated by those that insist on doing things that have been proven to not work, but there is this wall against even hearing evidence based research, especially among those that know very little about actual homeless people. (A familiar topic to this blog.) I have a B.S. in biology and have worked in research at IU, and I am blown away by the amount of real science and evidence based research that has been done regarding homelessness and poverty. We really do have a clue about what works better and what does not work so well, but as a community we are not given that credit.

    In Indiana, we are geographically divided between Indianapolis and the rest of the state. So Evansville is in the Balance of State under the umbrella of IHCDA (State of Indiana). Indianapolis does its own thing. It is a radical divide in some ways, so Indianapolis does not represent the rest of the state in many respects. I have some “friendly” differences in opinions with some of my counterparts in Indianapolis.

    There are however universal aspects to homelessness, so we are all part of a national shift in philosophy toward housing first, system-wide performance measures, and ending homelessness (instead of the Band-Aid approach).

  4. I serve breakfast to the homeless in Rochester once a week. As far as I know we have never saved anyone from their plight but they do go away less hungry. Do we contribute to their plight? I doubt it. They tend to be emotionally damaged survivors who will be the last to be employed if we ever flirt again with full employment.

    In Kenya, when we were there, unemployment was 45% with zero welfare. Lots of homeless, begging, prostitution and petty survival crime. The conservative dream world. No welfare. An improvement? In no way in my opinion. Wouldn’t live there at any tax rate.

    People forget that being homeless is the choice of survivors with no alternatives. It’s the work survivors take on when they can’t get jobs. It’s more a societal failure than personal.

    Can it be fixed? Business run well enough to produce full employment is the only fix that I can see.

  5. Thank you! 🙂 I am sorry, but I couldn’t try try it this morning…I had to go to work. It works now, thanks.

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