The Street Reach Indy campaign features repurposed parking meters to curb panhandling and help homeless people in Indianapolis, Ind. The program is a partnership between the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention (CHIP) and Downtown Indy, Inc., and replaces CHIP’s Know Outlets program.
Street Reach Indy’s goal is to increase attention to homelessness, encourage donations at repurposed parking meters, and distribute resources to those in need. The new Street Reach Indy parking meters—maintained and collected by ParkIndy—improve and clarify the brand message, broaden CHIP’s audience and social media engagement, and encourage valuable sponsorship opportunities.
Like many cities, panhandling is a problem in Indianapolis. Local legislative attempts to end vagrancy sometimes prove divisive or difficult to enforce. More importantly, making solicitation illegal doesn’t solve the underlying problem—96 percent of those panhandling in Downtown Indy are homeless. Indianapolis chose to employ a new tack through Street Reach Indy by funneling donations to services such as housing and workforce assistance. Instead of giving money directly to individuals, visitors can feed their spare change into 20 rebranded Street Reach Indy parking meters and donation boxes.
The idea of using parking meters to combat homelessness is not new. In fact, Indy officials got the idea from a similar program in Denver, Colo. While the previous Know Outlets program had a design, the messaging—“Know Outlets to Support Indy’s Homeless” and “Donate Here”—did not do enough to communicate the mission or the meters’ purpose.
The Street Reach Indy team reshaped the brand in gold and bright blue and a new font designed to attract those walking by. New messaging was created that clearly identifies the purpose: “A public campaign providing critical financial support to Indianapolis homeless.” Messaging includes a call to arms—“Help the Homeless” and “Donate Here”—and clarifies the program’s mission: “Making homelessness rare, short lived, and recoverable.”
ParkIndy supports the program for free, and their team maintains the parking meter stickers and branding as well as the meter mechanisms. The organization also collects the meters and counts coins on behalf of Street Reach Indy. Further, ParkIndy and its partners, such as Flowbird, donated the meters to Street Reach Indy and implemented pay-by-cell protocols to benefit the campaign.
ParkIndy promotes CHIP through direct donations and, within its subcontractor agreements, requires that vendors 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. Over two years, Street Reach Indy raised over $250,000 to provide assistance to 485 individuals experiencing homelessness.