Says Indiana Gov. Mike Pence "provides zero state funding for homeless shelters."  

US Uncut on Tuesday, March 31st, 2015 in a Facebook post

Mostly True

Advocacy group compares Gov. Pence to Jesus - unfavorably

Volunteer Nicole Clark, left, laces new tennis shoes for Patricia Gingery after washing her feet at the Denver Rescue Mission Friday, April 3, 2015, in Denver. Care for the homeless was part of city's Easter celebration. (AP)

Indiana’s Religious Freedom law quickly turned into a political and economic minefield for Republican Gov. Mike Pence. One activist group, US Uncut, took the moment to cast Pence as a man who defended religion while acting in ways that fell short of Christian charity.

It posted this image on its Facebook page, which has since been shared nearly 70,000 times, comparing Pence to Jesus:

We wanted to look at the claim that Pence provided "zero state funding for homeless shelters."

The 2014 Indiana homeless population was 5,971, according to the state’s annual census. Of that population, officials counted 5,568 living in emergency shelters while 403 were found living on the street. Overall, the homeless count was down 12 percent from 2013, officials said.

We looked at Pence’s most recent budget and found no money for emergency shelters. Under the line item for homelessness prevention, Pence requested zero dollars in both years of the biennial budget. There is $1.17 million in homeless assistance grants, but those are federal dollars. They come from the McKinney-Vento program administered through the Housing and Urban Development Department. There is also $1 million in mental health services for the homeless, but those too come from Washington.

"There has never been state funding directly for homeless shelters or programs," said Brad Meadows, communications director for the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority.

Meadows added that towns and cities have the option to spend local money to care for the homeless. However, that would still not be state dollars.

Barb Anderson is director of Haven House, a homeless shelter in Jeffersonville, Ind., and a long-time homeless advocate. "We’ve tried to get state funding for shelters for over 25 years," Anderson told PunditFact. "We’ve stayed open, but no one’s taken a salary in four years."

So Pence has not requested funding homeless shelters, but it’s worth noting that’s far from unique in Indiana. The state budget ultimately is the work product of the Legislature, not the governor. And the lack of state funding has been consistent under Republican and Democratic leadership. (Indiana had Democratic governors from 1989-2005, before electing Republican Mitch Daniels and then Pence.)

Michael Stoops, director of community organizing with the advocacy group National Coalition for the Homeless, told PunditFact that Indiana follows the pattern of many rural and southern states.

"They are getting federal homeless dollars and passing them through to the cities and counties," Stoops said. "They don’t spend any of their own money."

We contacted staff at Indiana University’s Public Policy Institute and the Indianapolis Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention, and they, too, could not identify any state money going toward emergency shelters.

Indiana’s State Homeless Planning Council says on its webpage that the priority is on "systematically preventing and ending homelessness for those most vulnerable in our communities." The Council writes, "Merely managing homelessness is in no one's best interest."

Stoops said many states do put their tax dollars into emergency shelters. That list includes, Colorado, Ohio, Oregon and Florida.

"Florida has been doing this since 1989," Stoops said.

Our ruling

The activist group US Uncut said Gov. Mike Pence provided zero state funding for homeless shelters. While the state budget and summaries from the experts and staffers we contacted confirmed that, it’s really an approach of the Indiana state government more than that of any particular person.

Advocates say the state has never funded homeless shelters, a de facto policy that includes the consent of both the Legislature and former Democratic governors.

We rate the claim Mostly True.



Delivered to your inbox weekly


This donation will make you a Inside Voice member.

For Membership benefits click here