Wednesday, February 23, 2011


Among the budget recommendations submitted by newly-elected Florida Gov. Scott is an elimination of all funding for homeless grants, programs and services, the elimination of the state Office on Homelessness and Governor's Council and the purging of the homeless statute form the books. If successful, Florida would be one of only two states (the other being Wyoming) without a state Office on Homelessness.

Over the past years, the Florida Challenge Grant have been awarded through the Suncoast Partnership to local homeless service providers to provide an array of support services to people that were homeless or at-risk of homelessness. Last year's included Gulf Coast Legal Services to provide counsel to Manatee and Sarasota homeless residents and to families at-risk of eviction; Jewish Family and Children Services to provide new case management services to establish their award-winning Building Strong Families program in Manatee County, Catholic Charities to provide utility assistance to those in need throughout both counties, and Manatee Glens to provide street outreach to homeless men and women who were suffering from mental illness.

This year, HOPE Family Services and SPARCC (Safe Place and Rape Crisis Center) will use their Challenge Grants to serve victims of domestic violence, The Manatee Salvation Army will provide bus passes to residents to get to and from work, and Catholic Charities will again provide services through both counties, in particular to men and women with HIV/AIDS.
The Sarasota-Manatee community has also received three Florida Homeless Housing Assistance grant to construct a 26-bed apartment building for a year-long program that assists young families with children at the Sarasota Salvation Army. The resulting F.A.I.T.H was awarded the Salvation Army's "Best Social Service Program" in the nation last year, an award given only once every three years; purchase and renovate 18 units of housing for homeless men and women who suffer from mental illness; and build two 10-bedroom homes to house up to 40 men in recovery at Harvest House. Both buildings received Florida Green Building Council and, with the recent award of Veterans Per Diem Grant, most if not all these beds will be dedicated to house homeless veterans.

This is a sampling of what this drastic proposal will mean locally, with similar repercussions throughout the state as outlined below.
Governor Scott's budget proposal:
1) eliminates all Challenge Grant funding which supports local homeless and prevention services. This year 28 continuums received a total of $2,031,354 to provide these desperately needed services.
2) eliminates all staffing grants for local homeless coalitions. This year homeless coalitions each received $12,600 each to support office operations with a total of $345,729 provided state-wide.
3) eliminates the Office on Homelessness along with two (2) staff positions and funding for the Governor's Council on Homelessness. This year the funding level is $436,353 to provide the state support necessary to make local CoCs and coalitions successful.
4) eliminates the Homeless Housing Assistance Grant program. This year $3 million was granted to 6 local communities to create 348 units of housing for homeless individuals and families.
5) does not restore the Homeless Grant-in-Aid program which had provided 80% of all state funding to local CoCs until it was de-funded 2 years ago.
6) prohibits state funding from being used to support Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Programs throughout the state.
7) raids and eliminates the state's (Sadowski) affordable housing trust fund; instead an estimated $37.5 million in documentary stamp revenue in the trust fund for 2011-2012 would be funneled into the General Revenue.
8) and in a final blow, the Governor's proposal actually repeals the authorizing legislation for the State Office of Homelessness, the Council on Homelessness, Challenge Grant program and Homeless Housing Assistance Grant program. If adopted, these innovative, progressive homeless initiatives--10 years in the making--would come to an end on July 1, 2011.

But, all is not lost. The Florida Coalition for the Homeless, Sadowski Coalition and others are working overtime to defeat these Draconian proposals and we need your help.
Rep. Roberson represents a part of Sarasota County and Rep. Steube represents a part of Manatee County and both hold key positions on the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, with Rep. Roberson serving as vice-chair and reportedly not in favor of these cuts.We ask that CoC agencies and members meet or otherwise contact Rep. Roberson and Rep. Steube and explain how this assault on homeless funding, programs and services would impact our struggling communities.

While you're at it, you may also call Governor Scott's office at (850) 488-7146 and other House and Senate Subcommittee members (click on links below for contact information). In particular, Sen. Negron is the chair of the Senate Health and Human Services Subcommittee and we understand that he, Sen. Gaetz and Sen. Oelrich are concerned about homeless veterans, and that may be the tact to follow when you speak with them or their aides.
Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee 2011

House Heatlh Care Appropriations Subcommittee 2011
Please share this email with everyone in your agency community that cares about homelessness in our community, and ask them to contact these legislators and especially their local legislators. Legislators will be home the 1st week of March prior to the opening of the legislative session, and this would be a good time to also meet with them personally.
Thank you for your dedication to those most in need in our community.

Richard Martin, Executive Director Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?