It's been a nightmare of a year for Carly Jackson. She got kicked out of a career training program, woke up in an Indianapolis hospital after trying to take her life, lived outside and bounced around to different houses and now stays at Wheeler Mission.
But things are starting to turn around for the 19-year-old, who hopes to be in an apartment within the first couple of weeks in October.
"I'm really excited," she said. "This is my first time actually having my own apartment."
Jackson grew up in the foster care system after being taken away from her parents when she was 6. She was born in Gary but has lived all over the state in foster homes, transitional housing and treatment centers. She moved in with an aunt in Nebraska
around 2015 but got in trouble there and had to come back.
Jackson was about to get sent to a shelter in Columbus after failing a drug test and getting kicked out of Atterbury Job Corps Center in Edinburgh when she attempted suicide in January. She woke up in a hospital in Indianapolis and has been here since.
"Sometimes I don't know who I am," she said. "Sometimes I don't know what's real. It's like my reality is so messed up. It's really sad."
Jackson could have stayed in foster care until she's 21 — the state extended the age from 18 in 2018 — but she signed herself out of Child Protective Services when she was 18. Being shipped from home to home left her exhausted. Jackson enrolled in a housing voucher program from Indianapolis Housing Agency for young adults who aged out of the foster care system.
Of course, it's not just 18-year-olds aging out of the foster care system who are at risk of homelessness.
For every 50 people experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis, seven are 24 or younger, according to the annual Point-in-Time (PIT) Count conducted by the IU Public Policy Institute and Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP).
That count was taken in January, though, before the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent economic fallout, and it's difficult to tell what exactly has happened to youth and young adults since then.
At Stopover Inc., which provides emergency shelter and other services to homeless teenagers and young adults, there weren't any teens in the emergency shelter for 12-to 17-year-olds as of Sept. 21, according to Executive Director Amber Ames.
That doesn't mean teens are all safely housed right now. Most likely, Ames said, it's because they don't want to get on CPS' radar. (Stopover Inc. has to get permission from CPS for a minor to stay in its shelter if the group can't get ahold of the parents.)
Chelsea Haring-Cozzi, executive director of CHIP, said in a previous interview with the Recorder first-time homelessness could be an issue. That wouldn't necessarily lead to a visible increase in homelessness, though, as those people might be able to get short-term help from family and friends who let them stay at their house while waiting for assistance from the government or an organization.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently issued a ban on evictions through the end of the year for renters and homeowners with an annual income less than $99,000 who can certify they have no other housing options.
The state had a moratorium on evictions until mid-August, and homeowners can apply for aid through the Indiana Foreclosure Prevention Network. Indianapolis' rent assistance fund received another $7.5 million from the last of the city's federal relief funds, and city officials expect the funding to last through December.
Derris Ross, founder of The Ross Foundation, which serves the far east side around 42nd Street and Post Road, said there were still some unlawful evictions in the area during the moratorium, and there were instances of landlords threatening evictions. Once young people lose housing, they usually end up crashing at someone else's house or squatting in an abandoned house, Ross said.
"They resort to doing what they gotta do to survive," he said.
Part of the issue, Ross said, is young people are less likely to know their rights. The Ross Foundation has a tenants rights union with 50-75 members.
The biggest factors contributing to homelessness on the far east side are a high recidivism rate and youth aging out of the foster care system, according to Ross. It can be especially difficult for those with a criminal record to find decent housing.
"They have nowhere to go," Ross said.
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.
The only thing Carly Jackson remembers about her stay in a hospital following a suicide attempt earlier this year is trying to kick a nurse.
That's it. She was reeling from an attempted overdose, ashamed of herself, trying to figure out exactly what was going on. She had just been in Edinburgh, after all, and woke up in Indianapolis.
Jackson, 19, was at Atterbury Job Corps Center when she attempted suicide. She had just failed a drug test and was only four days short of graduating from the program with her culinary license. They
wanted to send her to a shelter in Columbus, but Jackson didn't want that — not after growing up in the foster care system, transitional housing and treatment facilities.
She tried to take her life Jan. 19 while locked in an office at the front gate of the center.
Jackson was homeless on the streets of Indianapolis and bounced around to different houses when she could. She got into Wheeler Mission recently after being sexually assaulted by someone she met on a dating app.
"It's really hard," she said. "I'm really depressed. I feel like a walking corpse to be honest. It may not seem like it, but I do. I'm so depressed. I'm so hurt. I've been hurt in all the ways you can imagine."
Jackson sees a therapist every Tuesday now and said it helps to just have someone to talk to when she's lonely. She was reunited with her mother recently for the first time since she was 6 — when the state took her away from her parents — but they didn't get along and didn't stay in touch.
"I wouldn't wish how I feel on anybody because how I feel, it's like, I don't care if I die," she said. "It's really sad because I used to be so confident."
Some things are starting to look up, though. Thanks to a housing voucher program through Indianapolis Housing Agency, Jackson is close to getting into an apartment, the first place she'll ever have on her own.
Like so many others in a situation like hers, Jackson said she feels misunderstood. She wishes people knew that she's a caring person.
"I put myself in other people's shoes all the time," she said. "Every decision I make, whether it seems like I did or not, at the time I may not have cared about the negative outcome, but I did think about how you would feel, and I did think about the consequences before I just did it.
"I'm very smart. I've just been hurt. I'm broken."
Contact staff writer Tyler Fenwick at 317-762-7853. Follow him on Twitter @Ty_Fenwick.
I was a in a heated discussion a week ago about voting, with a group of men I meet with every Saturday. I dare not get into the details of our meeting, because I want to make sure we continue conversing in the manner in which we do every week. There was something said that disturbed me in this meeting.
We were discussing the accountability of the church. In this discussion, I made the statement that the church failed miserably as it related to the last presidential election, because I believe the church went against its own beliefs when the topic of gay rights was on the table.
Let me just state this for the record: I am in no way against equality for all people. I believe everyone should be treated as human beings. I will also go on record saying I believe what the Bible says. I will also go on record saying I am a human being who makes mistakes just like anyone else, yet I still believe what the Bible says.
I personally believe the church lost a lot of ground when they knew the agenda of our current president did not match what thus says the Lord, yet they told their people to still go with his agenda. Now as I look at the candidates we have now, I am wondering who the Black church is giving their nod to for the upcoming
We have been told that politics at the local level is what makes things happen. When I look around, I see there are a lot of faces in politics that look like mine, yet I do not see the changes that are necessary for our people to move ahead.
There are politicians in this city who will not pick the phone up if and when you call. As of now, I am currently blocked on Facebook by one of our well-known Black politicians. I have been cursed out by another Black politician for voicing my opinion on a Facebook post.
I have personally come to the conclusion that there is always a winning option in politics if you are a believer. 1 Corinthians says, "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."
In reading this, I thought about how many times I was told that, when voting, I have to pick the lesser of two evils. I finally realized that when He provides a way out, he is talking about Himself.
We have had Blacks in every level of politics now. We have finally had someone in the White House who looks like us. Although this is true, I must say I have not seen much change take place for Black people at this point. Some may not agree with me, but if they do their research, I am sure they will agree afterward.
In knowing this, I had to ask myself, what got us here? What got us to the point of politics? What got us to the point of being able to have some of the liberties we have today as Black people? The only answer I could come up with is our faith.
Do you realize it has only been 51 years since we were given the right to vote? On Aug. 6, 1965, Lyndon Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act. History says slavery lasted 245 years (although I still see it). There is 100 years' difference between the abolishment of slavery and the Voting Rights Act.
Again, I ask, how did we get here?
Our faith not only helped release us from the shackles of slavery, but it also helped us to fight for the rights to do the things we do today. We did not die for the right to vote. We died for human rights. We have become so entrenched in politics that we have forgotten our true strength was our faith in the Lord. We have started believing in what and whom we see and have lost our sense of hope in what God can do.
Psalm 146:3 says, "Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save." I am not saying you should not vote. All I am saying is you should realize that with God, we can move mountains (100 years), and without him, we are lost.
He has proven time and time again he is the ONLY way for us to grow as a people. Let's get ourselves reacquainted to Him.
Greg Meriweather is the host of the Black On Black Radio Show and the chief executive officer of Black On Black LLC.
For years, Indiana Avenue was filled with Black-owned businesses, jazz clubs and artists who worked together to make the area a vibrant hub for African Americans in Indianapolis. A product of segregation, Indiana Avenue — or "The Grand Ol' Street" — provided Black residents of Indianapolis with Black doctors and lawyers, and the Indianapolis Recorder published from The Avenue from the 1920s until the 1970s.
Today, the only reminder of what Indiana Avenue once was for the Black community in Indianapolis is the Madam Walker Theatre, which was saved from demolition in the 1980s by a group of concerned citizens. Now, the construction of a $70 million apartment complex on the avenue is sparking controversy among residents.
Buckingham Companies, an Indianapolis-based developer, wants to tear down Walker Plaza — an office building for IUPUI — to build a five-story apartment complex that
would span roughly three blocks downtown. Due to its proximity to IUPUI, many of the future residents would likely be college students, representatives said.
IUPUI and the Walker Legacy Center formed a partnership in 2018, giving the university a say in some of the programming, as well as office and classroom space in the building.
In response to the plans, Indianapolis resident Paula Brooks created Reclaim Indiana Avenue, a group dedicated to preserving the history of the area. The group's core focus areas, according to its website, are restorative justice and building awareness.
On the group's Facebook page, they describe construction plans as a "dream of wiping out the last vestiges of 'blackness.'"
For several months, Indiana Avenue has been a meeting place for protests and events hosted by local activism groups, including Indy10 Black Lives Matter. In August, Indy10 sponsored a "Black Lives Matter" mural outside of Walker Plaza, with organizers calling the piece — created by a team of local Black artists — a tribute to "ancestors."
Paul Mullins, an anthropology professor at IUPUI, frequently discusses the school's role in the gentrification of downtown Indianapolis. He views this construction plan as another attempt to diminish the history of Indiana Avenue.
A clue for Mullins, he said, is in the architecture.
"I think what good design does is recognize the heritage of place, and what Buckingham has done is borrowed a few stylistic elements from the Walker Theatre, but selectively," Mullins said. The Afro-centric designs incorporated in the Walker Theatre, Mullins said, were not included in the design proposal. "They did make the argument that they would have a public art installation that may have some additional nods to the history of the avenue," Mullins said, "but the building itself is the first thing you see from the street."
Like Brooks, Mullins isn't arguing for Indiana Avenue to return to what it was in the past. He just wants the history of the street to be remembered and protected.
"I don't think it's a case of trying to recapture 1940s life on the avenue," Mullins said. "It's about recognizing that heritage and making it a part of an avenue that is truly alive. The Avenue could be integrated on the color line and across class, and we can recognize its heritage as a jumping-off point for a more progressive future."
It isn't just older generations who are worried about the impact of forgotten heritage. Several IUPUI students, including Aahron Whitehead, a third-year student, feel the school needs to be more upfront about its role in the gentrification of downtown.
"Where IUPUI is built today, there once stood a strong Black community," Whitehead said in a previous interview with the Recorder. "IUPUI has exploited that community and broke it apart. They exploited and broke apart Haughville, Indiana Avenue and Lockefield Gardens."
Sha-Nel Henderson, president of the Black Student Union (BSU) at IUPUI, echoes Whitehead's sentiments. Henderson feels IUPUI doesn't do enough to teach students about the history of downtown, and she worries more development downtown could lead to more history being forgotten.
The BSU currently has several demands of the university, including requiring history classes to discuss the gentrification that happened downtown, partnering with more Black-owned businesses and more funding for research into health disparities in the Black community. Whitehead argues Black residents of Indianapolis should be offered scholarships or freshman year tuition deferments.
"We want IUPUI to basically repay the community for their actions," Whitehead said. "They need to help and reinvest into the community to help it grow to become a more urban and innovative environment."
"We [IUPUI] has a vested stake in The Avenue and in the Walker, even if we don't possess that building," Mullins said. "There is no real systematic heritage education that takes place on campus ... and that makes it more difficult to have political activism when people don't have historical knowledge."
Contact staff writer Breanna Cooper at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @BreannaNCooper.
Hoosiers will go to the polls Nov. 3 to vote for the president, governor, judges and representatives in the general election.
Here are the important dates and deadlines to keep in mind as we inch closer to the election.
Oct. 5 — Voter registration deadline
Register to vote online at indianavoters.in.gov. It's also a good idea to check on your voter status at the same website.
If you prefer to fill out a paper registration form, you can find them at the Marion County Board of Voters Registration, 200 E. Washington St., W-131, as well as Bureau of Motor Vehicles branches, township trustee offices and Indianapolis Public Library branches.
Oct. 6-Nov. 2 — Early voting
There are five early voting locations open Oct. 24 through Nov. 1:
• Krannert Park Community Center, 605 S. High School Road
• Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township administration building, 6501 Sunnyside Road
• Perry Township Government Center, 4925 Shelby St.
• St. Luke's United Methodist Church, 100 W. 86th St.
• Warren Township Government Center, 501 N. Post Road These early voting sites are open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on weekends.
The City-County Building, 200 E. Washington St., will open for early voting Oct. 6 through Nov. 2 with varying hours on weekdays and weekends.
Oct. 22 — Deadline to apply for an absentee ballot
Indiana is currently one of only a few states that doesn't count COVID-19 as a valid reason to vote by mail for the general election. Voters must choose from a list of 11 reasons to vote by mail.
Apply for an absentee ballot online at indianavoters.in.gov, or by printing an application and mailing it or taking it to the Marion County Election Board, 200 E. Washington St., W-144. The Election Board has to receive the application by 11:59 p.m.
The 11 reasons to choose from to vote by mail:
1. The voter has a "reasonable expectation" that they will be out of county for the entire time polls are open on Election Day.
2. The voter has disability.
3. The voter is 65 years old or older.
4. The voter has official election duties outside of their voting precinct.
5. The voter is scheduled to work during the entire time the polls are open.
6. The voter will be "confined due to illness or injury" or caring for someone who is confined as such for the entire time the polls are open.
7. The voter is prevented from voting due to a religious discipline or holiday on Election Day.
8. The voter participates in the state's address confidentiality program.
9. The voter is a member of the military or a public safety officer.
10. The voter is considered a "serious sex offender" as defined by state statute.
11. The voter does not have access to transportation to the polls.
Nov. 3 — Election Day
Polling places are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. There will be 187 vote centers throughout Marion County, including Lucas Oil Stadium. Visit vote.indy.gov for a map of vote centers.
For those voting absentee by mail, election officials must receive a ballot by noon on Election Day, regardless of when it's postmarked.