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Rethinking the Use of Parking to Help Fight Homelessness

Written by:  Matt Darst and Adam Isen

While the notion of “smart cities” traditionally encompasses improved digital information sharing and responsive governance to improve public services, the definition is ever evolving. Cities and their partner agencies, including non-profit organizations, continue to shape the idea of a smart city, expanding the concept in new and innovative ways.

Through “adaptive reuse,” the City of Indianapolis, Downtown Indy, Inc., and the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP) are seeking to reframe how we think about smart cities through the Street Reach Indy program. Street Reach Indy is a collaborative and sustainable effort to repurpose parking meters to end homelessness by funneling donations to services like housing and workforce assistance. As Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett noted recently, “Men and women struggling with homelessness deserve more than spare change.”

Instead of giving money directly to panhandlers, visitors to Downtown Indianapolis can feed their spare change into Street Reach Indy parking meters. Street Reach Indy harnesses the cumulative power of those individual donations to fund services that can make the biggest difference in the fight against homelessness.

Between September 2017 and September 2019, Street Reach Indy has raised over $250,000 to provide assistance to 485 individuals experiencing homelessness while increasing community engagement around the issue.

Conduent Transportation is proud to support Street Reach Indy. As the manager of curbside operations in Indianapolis, we’re uniquely positioned to help defray administrative costs. Through our ParkIndy program and partners like Flowbird, we’ve donated dozens of parking meters to the initiative. Further, we provide the labor to maintain meters, collect donations, and count coins on behalf of Street Reach Indy. We also worked with Parkmobile to enable pay-by-cell donations to benefit the campaign.

We also promote CHIP through direct donations and require our subcontractors to donate a percentage of their Indianapolis-based fees to support local charities. To date, these initiatives, including direct and in kind donations, have led to nearly $50,000 in donations to support Street Reach Indy.

In September, our ParkIndy program received the 2019 Community Collaborator Award from CHIP. The annual award recognized us for our efforts to support Street Reach Indy. We’re both honored and humbled by the award, and we’re excited to continue to support such a meaningful and life-changing endeavor.

If you’d like to make a difference in Indianapolis, please donate to support the Street Reach Indy program or sponsor a meter.