Last year, the city of Indianapolis used hotels to house more people. (photo courtesy of Doug Jaggers, WFYI)

A former Indianapolis Public Schools building is temporarily getting new life this winter. Our partners at WFYI report the former Susan Roll Leach, IPS 68 building on the city’s northeast side will be used to house women, children and families experiencing homelessness as part of the city’s winter contingency plan.

The city is using federal relief funding and Community Block Grant funding to support the facility.

“In order to be able to accommodate the number that we saw last year, we really needed a large enough space and there were no hotels in one facility that could accommodate us,” said Office of Public Health and Safety Housing Specialist Andrew Merkley.

According to Merkley, the pandemic has increased the need for homeless housing.

WFYI reports the facility will provide rooms for families as well as wrap-around services like employment and connections to permanent housing. Merkley said the facility will be able to provide better coordination.

Last year, the city used federal relief aid through a hotel program to house hundreds.

This year, Wheeler Mission is partnering with the city to staff and run the shelter, moving from the Center for Women and Children, for winter operations.

“It’s just a better situation to have everyone in one place where we can provide those wrap around services,” Merkley said.

The city is also partnering with the Department of Housing and Urban Development and IPS on the project. The facility is expected to open by the end of the year.