Downtown Indy, Inc. has launched a pilot Street Ambassador Program to clean sidewalks and public spaces in the Wholesale District. This 12-month, $225,000 program was created in response to the increased level of concern regarding safety and lack of cleanliness in the Downtown area, largely brought on by those experiencing homelessness and panhandlers.
The pilot program currently consists of six Street Ambassadors who have been hired through Healthy Veterans and Families (HVAF), an organization dedicated to eliminating homelessness for veterans and their families through prevention, education, supportive services and advocacy. Downtown Indy, Inc. provides these veterans a temporary, full-time position with a $12 hourly wage. DII, whose mission is to advance and enhance Downtown as a great place to live, learn, work and play, is proud to provide these veterans with a conduit for personal and professional success.
“Downtown is challenged by an inconsistent experience in its public realm – dirty sidewalks, graffiti and occasionally intimidating street behaviors that detract from Downtown’s overall cleanliness,” said Sherry Seiwert, president and CEO of Downtown Indy, Inc. “Last year’s proposed EID would have supplemented existing City services with added resources to ensure a consistently clean and welcoming Downtown at all times. Yet, with the increased use of Downtown from a growing residential base, increased convention activity and greater office occupancy, the wear and tear of Downtown is showing more and more. Filth must be addressed and no business should get complacent with its own cleaning standards. Our Downtown deserves better.”
DII Street Ambassadors remove trash from the sidewalks in the Wholesale District and address grime through spot power washing. They also remove stickers from street poles and signs as well as graffiti.
Since the pilot program’s launch in mid-October, the Downtown community has already expressed their gratitude to the Street Ambassador team. They’ve received encouragement and recognition of not only doing great work maintaining and restoring our streets, but also representing Downtown in a positive and prideful light. The ambassadors feel a great sense of pride in working towards the betterment of their city.
In the second phase of this program, the Street Ambassadors will receive Visit Indy’s hospitality training offered to the service industry. The third phase of this program will be to provide the Street Ambassadors with devices to contact IMPD. This would allow the ambassadors to report any inappropriate behavior they witness directly to the police department.
Ambassadors clearly represent Downtown Indy, Inc. with vibrant yellow jackets as they work shifts Monday through Friday or Wednesday through Sunday from 7 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. or 11 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. This ensures that there is the needed coverage during times of higher activity throughout the week. This initiative is an immersive opportunity for the Downtown Indy, Inc. team to assist visitors and ensure that Downtown is as clean and safe as possible for both visitors and residents.
If additional funding is generated during the pilot, the Street Ambassador program would be able to expand to the entire Mile Square, increase the number of Street Ambassadors and be extended beyond the initial 12 months. Downtown Indy, Inc. encourages individual businesses to maintain the sidewalks in front of their establishments, become a Downtown Indy, Inc. member and continue to support DII’s efforts.
Seiwert added, “Restoring Downtown’s beauty and maintaining the city’s core through the hard work of the Street Ambassador team is evident from just a few weeks of dedicated cleaning. We’re thrilled to employ these Ambassadors, many of whom were once homeless themselves. There are multiple benefits of this pilot to improve our community and make it stronger.”