Hanna Commons, a new 55-unit permanent supportive housing facility on the southside of Indianapolis, was created by Adult & Child Health and a network of partners to address chronic homelessness in the area. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Homelessness may be a largely hidden problem in central Indiana.

But the issue continues to impact the entire community.

During the annual Point in Time count held in January, 48 people in Johnson County were found to be without a home, up from 16 in 2022 — though those numbers are certainly undercounted, officials say. In Marion County, the count found a 130% increase in people who have been homeless for long periods of time, or repeatedly, while dealing with issues such as addiction, mental health problems or disabilities.

“These folks are unhoused — there’s a housing crisis,” said Jennifer Disbro, vice president of behavioral health services for Adult & Child. “They’re the most vulnerable individuals.”

A new facility on the southside of Indianapolis aims to reduce chronic homelessness in the area and provide the most vulnerable of residents a supportive place to recover.

Hanna Commons is a new 55-unit housing complex offering permanent supportive housing — a facility not only providing housing assistance but including wrap-around supportive services such as case management, mental health care and sustance abuse treatment.

“We’ll have the ability to provide crisis services to all residents,” Disbro said. “Our goal is to work with each resident to remain stably housed in Hanna Commons, or if they choose at some point to move, to assist them transitioning to another complex. We don’t anyone to return to homelessness.”

The complex is a partnership between integrated healthcare provider Adult & Child Health with a handful of other government entities and social organizations. By embracing the idea of “Housing First,” the hope is to ensure residents have a roof over their heads first, and then have access to services and treatment if they want to take advantage.

“It’s the first of its kind on the southside. The need is great throughout the city; affordable housing is the biggest barrier for folks experiencing homelessness, so we need more affordable housing and specifically permanent supportive housing for folks who have some kind of disabling condition,” said Brian Paul, team leader of the homeless resource team for Adult & Child Health. “It’s great for the households that are moving in there, but there’s still the need for hundreds more.”

Adult & Child is a community mental health center and federally qualified healthcare center serving Marion and Johnson counties, including offices in Whiteland, Franklin and southside Indianapolis. The organization provides service such as behavioral health, primary care, social services and addictions treatment.

Joining Adult & Child in the Hanna Commons project are a number of partners: the City of Indianapolis, Corporation for Supportive Housing, Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority, South Indy Quality of Life Plan, UP Development LLC, Southeast Neighborhood Development Corporation, and Upholdings Inc.

“It takes a long time and a lot of energy to start the process,” Disbro said. “Adult & Child has been involved every year for the last five to six years.”

The story of Hanna Commons has been slowly building for years, stemming from a challenge by Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett to expand housing options for people experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis. Through the challenge, the Hanna Commons project was awarded $1.2 million annually for 10 years and $1 million in Housing Trust Funds by the Indianapolis Department of Metropolitan Development in March 2021.

The key component of the project is providing permanent supportive housing, a model designed to best help those suffering from chronic homelessness. Those who are chronically homeless are individuals who have been unhoused for a long period of time, or repeatedly while suffering from mental illness, substance use disorders, physical disabilities, or other serious conditions.

Permanent supportive housing has shown success in keeping those individuals housed. According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, permanent supportive housing facilities contributed to an 8% decrease in chronic homelessness across America between 2007 and 2019.

“Under this model, services are not mandated or in any way tied to a person’s tenancy. All service participation is voluntary,” said Amanda Vipperman, assistant director of community and specialty services at Adult & Child. “This philosophy practices assertive engagement whereby supportive housing staff work to meet tenants where they are.

“The philosophy at Hanna Commons is built upon empathy and person-centric strategies that focus on creating a culture of support and service participation.”

In permanent supportive housing, people are provided not only a place to live, but access to services including on-site therapy, case management, housing stability and engagement support, and 24/7 crisis support services. Residents also have access to primary care services at an off-site Adult & Child health center.

Also featured at Hanna Commons is an onsite food and clothing/shoe pantry, as well as group meetings to address grief, independent living skills and substance use disorder. Residents can receive case management, and take advantage of dog therapy through partnership of Paws and Think.

“Not all individuals want to enroll in therapy or behavioral health services. So this is a way to support their journey into housing and to develop skills to create a community,” Disbro said.

Prospective residents are brought into the Hanna Commons program through a system of coordinated entry. The system is designed to quickly identify, assess, refer, and connect people in crisis to housing, shelter, and assistance, no matter where they show up to ask for help.

“Coordinated entry means that these individuals who are experiencing homelessness have the right, like anyone else, to share in equitable housing. They’re not pigeonholed into accepting service. It just says they have the right to receive housing,” Disbro said.

The housing facility is located off of Hanna Avenue, about four miles north of the Johnson County border in Marion County. Residents started living on-site in the fall, and already are sharing their gratitude for the program.

One resident said after qualifying for residency, “After years of fighting an uphill battle, it is like someone finally reached out a hand to help us reach that life-changing summit – the view is breathtaking. Now we can start a new life.”

Another resident said, “ Now that I have a key to a stable home. That’s major, I can bathe regularly, sleep regularly, take my medication in a safe place where I won’t be harassed. A place where physical pain has time to rest. It’s a major improvement in my life for stability and is a best fit for me. I don’t know how else to say it. I’m extremely grateful for the home given to me.”

With winter approaching, Hanna Commons officials are working to provide residents with basic household items. They are collecting donations from the community such as microwaves, toasters, crockpots, coffee makers, toilet paper, plungers, mops and household cleaners, to further support those living at Hanna Commons.

“A lot of these individuals have been living on the street for many, many years and aren’t coming in with anything,” Vipperman said. “Property management has provided some baseline things — a few dishes, pots and pans. But nothing to build a life with.”


Hanna Commons, a permanent supportive housing facility for the homeless on the southside of Indianapolis, is asking for help from the community as the winter season approaches.

The facility is currently accepting donations at 603 E Washington St., 9th Floor, Indianapolis. Requested items include microwaves, toasters, crockpots, coffee makers, toilet paper, plungers, mops and household cleaners.

Questions regarding donations can be directed to Brandi Ward at [email protected].