Backed by royal blue Indianapolis Colts banners reflecting the color theme of the day, Mayor Bart Peterson last week announced the revamping of his well-publicized Blueprint to End Homelessness. In an effort he said reflects his priority of keeping the National Football League"s Colts in Indianapolis, the report has been re-written and renamed The Blueprint to Prevent Colt-lessness. Chapters on public housing and income subsidies have been slightly altered to reflect the Colts" needs; sections on substance abuse counseling have been retained in the same form. "Doing whatever it takes to keep the Colts in town is agenda item No. 1 for this administration, so I am pleased that we could re-vitalize a report that, while once quite important, has outlived its usefulness," Peterson said. Peterson refused to elaborate on how the homeless version of the blueprint had "outlived its usefulness," but local commentators pronounced the move a political masterstroke. Noting that Peterson has received national and local recognition for the Blueprint without actually increasing services or housing for the homeless, WFYI"s Week in Review show panelist and former GOP state leader Daniel McMichael applauded the decision. "The mayor managed to get credit for being concerned about the poor without actually spending any money on them. Now that is what makes Bart Peterson such a tough candidate to beat," McMichael said. "He is betting that voters care more about pro football than homeless children, and Indiana voters have always rewarded candidates with those kinds of priorities." Although Peterson aides privately expressed concern about negative reaction to the change, local social services advocates responded with a collective shrug. Although the Blueprint stated that the city needed some 12,500 more rental units for low-income residents, the city has actually lost affordable housing since the document"s publication last year. The Fall Creek YMCA shuttered its 96 rooms for low-income men, and one of the city"s family emergency shelters had to temporarily shut down for lack of funds. This summer, a proposal to raise local tax revenue for a low-income housing trust fund received no support from Peterson and was easily defeated in the City-County Council. According to one caseworker for the city"s homeless, there is documentation of only one family who received shelter due to the Blueprint. In that case, a recently-evicted mother of three children, with the help of a Kinko"s laminating machine, constructed a lean-to from the 49-page document and erected it in a near-Eastside park. The Peterson Administration would not confirm reports that it has requested grant funding for a film commemorating the lean-to event.
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