Indianapolis Mayor Reflects on 2021 Improvements and Work Still to Be Done | Politics






The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament took place almost entirely in Indianapolis, including Lucas Oil Stadium. The tournament brought in millions of dollars to the region and around 174,000 fans.




INDIANAPOLIS—Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett has led the city to invest in numerous public safety and infrastructure programs in 2021, largely supplemented by federal aid programs.

A violence prevention plan provided more funding for police, and a partnership with AES Indiana converted much of the city’s lighting to LED fixtures. While some initiatives aimed to build community, others aimed to bring the country’s top sporting events to the city. Here is a look back at 2021.

The number of homicides in the United States increased in 2020, on the rise 30% as of 2019. This is the largest one-year increase since national homicide recording began in the 1960s. Gun violence accounted for 89% of Indy homicides in 2020, but little data from 2021 is being released at this point.

Although the data isn’t fully settled for last year, at least nine cities posted increases in 2021, including Philadelphia, Austin, Louisville and Indianapolis. Indy’s homicide rate fell from 245 homicides to 271, both figures being state records. The city witnessed three mass shootings, including the fedex shooting that claimed the lives of eight people.

In recent years, gun sales have increased. With 22.8 million weapons purchased, 2020 was the busiest year for the company. 2021 followed with 18 million guns leaving the shelves. Despite the increase in arms sales, most to research indicates that a shutdown of social programs and increased stress levels during COVID-19 played the largest role in the rise in gun deaths.

Hogsett released a violence prevention plan in early 2021 to address the growing number of gun-related deaths. the US Bailout Act, intended to economically and physically protect vulnerable workers, gave $150 million for the acquisition of additional police officers. The city had previously reduced its police force under Greg Ballard, Hogsett’s predecessor. Then the police hit a high of 1,743 officers, although they are now below that number, Hogsett communications director Mark Bode said.

“This cycle of violence has accelerated beyond the resources we had before, so now we’re going to pour in historic resources, historic investments to keep up with that acceleration,” Bode said.

The prevention plan also grants $9 million in modern technology for license plate readers, public safety cameras and a gunshot detection pilot program. Programs like ShotSpotter allowed the police to react more quickly to gunfire.

“Gunshot detection is very expensive, so the intention is that we can try it in specific areas, see if it works for IMPD, and if it works, we’ll put more resources into it,” he said. Bode said. .

The plan also provides funding for 50 community peacemakers, people who can be accompanied when an officer thinks a situation might turn violent. It also allocates $30 million to mental health programs. Some of the money was used to pay a dozen school coordinators on the east side of town who advocate for children’s resource needs on a one-to-one basis.

Since 2017, the Lift Indy program has designated an area or areas of the city for improvement each year. In 2021, two zones have been chosen: the Middle North (Martindale-Brightwood) and Far East (Lawrence). Lift Indy has donated $3.5 million to each location to support an affordable, stable housing market and comprehensive social services.

“Neighborhoods that are on the edge, they have a certain level of prosperity, but they just need a little nudge to get over that and create this upcoming cycle of new business,” Bode said.

Another housing program, IndyRent, was introduced at the start of the pandemic to help people who lost their income. Some cities have tried to deal with an increase in evictions during COVID-19. Indy’s expulsion rate remained relatively stable, although it has increased since the suspension of the 2020 eviction moratorium.

The program received $91 million in federal funding last year from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, a publicly funded program. IndyRent could initially only support a Hoosier for three months, but this funding extended the service to a 12-month period.

Denise Zercher is two months behind on her rent. She submitted an application to Indy Rent almost two weeks ago and she is waiting to see if it is approved.

“That worries you. Sometimes I can’t sleep at night,” Zercher said. “It’s really stressful.”

If her request is denied, she said she would seek help elsewhere. She was previously helped by the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center.

Zercher isn’t currently worried about eviction because his landlord, who filled out a section of Zercher’s application, is understanding. Zercher said her stress would be much higher if she was haggled by a strict owner.

Zercher found Indy Rent by finding the right person. When she heard about Yanna McGraw, a social worker at the Indianapolis Public Library, she approached her for advice. It worked for her, but she knows other people wouldn’t have made it this far.

“I’m just the type of person – I know how to find things. I ask questions, and I don’t stop at first person, I keep asking and finding references,” Zercher said.

She said the obstacles in front of her were sometimes daunting, but she always told herself to keep going.

“It’s just crazy. It’s the waiting game,” Zercher said.

The Circle City Forward initiative strives to improve public infrastructure. the first phase initiative, launched in February 2021, has awarded $190 million to improve numerous local parks, a waste management garage and a new fire station in Marion County.

A second phase, announced in May 2021, awarded an additional $25 million to improve residential streets in Marion County. A project third phase will invest $25 million to create new trails and improve old trails and greenways around Marion County.

All phases of the initiative remain in the design stage, Bode said.

The city has also seen the emergence of Night Light Operation, a city-wide effort to convert existing streetlights to brighter, more efficient LED lights.

The program was launched in 2016 when Hogsett lifted a 35-year moratorium on new streetlights. The city partnered with AES Indiana, formerly Indianapolis Power and Light, to launch the program.

Currently, around 27,000 street lamps have been converted to LED luminaires. Additionally, 2,000 brand new streetlights were installed to further illuminate Indy.

Indy has hosted some of the biggest events in the country despite the persistence of COVID-19 well into 2021.

The NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament took place almost entirely in Indianapolis. The tournament had never been attempted on such a small geographical scale before. Although some Indiana colleges and universities outside the city hosted games, many took place on two courts at Lucas Oil Stadium and Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The tournament brought millions of dollars to the region and around 174,000 fans, a third less than March Madness usually attracts.

The 105th Indy 500 in May »reopened america” with the biggest event organized around the world since the beginning of the pandemic. At Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Helio Castroneves won his fourth title in front of 135,000 fans, 40% of the amount the arena can hold. This was in stark contrast to the 2020 race, where no fans were allowed. The Marion County Health Department advised on event safety while Visit Indy and Indy Sports Corporation handled much of the logistics.

“They both rose to the occasion,” Bode said. “There’s a reason we were named hosts for all of March Madness. There’s a reason we get the Final Four every five years or so… We have that reputation.

Gage Deiser and Isaac Gleitz are reporters for TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students.

Maria D. Ervin