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Winter Contingency at Wheeler Mission ends on March 31st

Wheeler Mission's Winter Contingency Plan
Posted at 11:20 PM, Mar 22, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-23 12:24:21-04

INDIANAPOLIS — Wheeler Mission's Winter Contingency Plan is ending on March 31st.

The plan was developed to provide relief to people experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis and Central Indiana.

It has served as a guide to prevent people from experiencing serious harm of death during the winter season.

The end of the contingency plan has caused a lot of frustration for those who are experiencing homelessness and looking for a place to go to next.

"I only need temporary shelter. I'm not looking at Wheeler Mission for permanent (residence)," said Lawrence Mills, who is currently experiencing homelessness.

For Mills, getting his life back on track has presented some obstacles.

"Now we have to sit here and sort in our minds how frustrating it will be coming out of this situation when you've already been confined for those many years. Four decades is not an easy time to do," said Mills.

However, Mills is resilient and hopeful that things will get better.

"I’m trying to work for a goal and that's to get my own place to live, work and have a piece of mind," said Mills. "I have no intention to just come in here and stay as long as I thought I could stay without trying to do anything."

He's hoping a resolution will fall into place by March 31st.

"We're all struggling with what's going to happen to us. Are we actually going to be out in the cold come April," Mills said.

However, Wheeler Mission wants those experiencing homelessness to have a chance at finding permanent residency.

"It's not like we're doing a mass exodus and just throwing everyone out in the street. What we're doing during that time is we want people to actually focus on ending their homelessness," said William Bumphus, Director of Wheeler Mission's Shelter for Men.

The Winter Contingency Program at Wheeler Mission runs from November 1st through March 31st.

"We recognize it's colder outside. It's safer for them to be inside. So, during that time we kind of relax some rules and we allow things we normally would not allow," Bumphus said.

Bumphus said the March 31st deadline is motivation for those sheltered to make permanent changes for the better.

"We get them connected to different care services and different organizations that can help them navigate to that next step," Bumphus said.

For those like Mills who are working through things and need more time, Bumphus told WRTV the shelter will do everything they can to keep them there.

"Everybody deserves a second chance. These are our second chances," said Mills.

Bumphus said they have program and case managers at each location.

If you are staying at one of their locations, he advises you to get in touch with your case manager right away so they can assist you before that March 31st deadline.