Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Saturday, March 26, 2011
One valuable participant was Steve, a laid off union carpenter who is presently homeless. Steve told us about his daily challenges. For instance, there is presently no place in Southern Sarasota County where people who are homeless are able to take a shower. Nor was Steve aware of any place where he could get laundry done.
When Steve discussed his laundry issue, some very energetic women from North Port told us how they had addressed the problem. They had entered into an arrangement with a local Laundromat to purchase and distribute vouchers to homeless citizens. This model may have potential throughout the rest of the county. Learning about strategies like this has been one of the great benefits of undertaking the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness.
Other matters that were discussed included:
--We need to do a better job getting the word out about services that are presently available. Probably the best resource that is presently available is the 211 service. People can call 211 and get information about agencies and resources. Some of this information used to be available in a printed book. The problem is that the material would quickly become dated. A representative from 211 pointed out that there are also many eligibility criteria for some of the services and that makes it difficult to make accurate and helpful referrals. For those with internet access, information about 211 can be found here: http://uw211manasota.net/ .
--Representatives from Sarasota County Area Transit (SCAT) were present. They understand that SCAT buses are an important resource for citizens who are homeless. SCAT works with agencies to distribute vouchers. It was suggested that this voucher program could be expanded to serve more people, particularly if SCAT buses are under utilized. SCAT is also well aware of the popularity and limitations of the bike racks that most buses have been outfitted with.
--Shelter is lacking. Recently, successful efforts have been made to open a cold weather shelter. However, there is little to no available shelter space in Southern Sarasota for the rest of the year. Several participants noted that young men are in need. There is a population of homeless teenage or young males in need of housing. Mention was also made of the increasing issue of opiate addiction and the lack of supportive housing for those struggling to overcome their problems.
--There is tremendous support from the community for tackling these and other issues. I am very grateful to Mayor Holick and councilman Carlesimo from the City of Venice, and command staff from the Venice Police Department, who attended yesterday and listened with open minds. Sarasota County government remains supportive of our efforts and Commissioner Carolyn Mason again led and fully participated in yesterday’s session. And local service providers like Catholic Charities and Jewish Family and Children Services have also given us insight and knowledge.
A meeting like yesterday helps demonstrate the real potential of a group like the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness. Our success comes from the ability to gather compassionate and skilled members of the community together so that we can learn from one another, identify gaps in service, and avoid duplication of efforts. The next community meeting of the Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness will be held on Friday, April 8th, at 2:00 pm, at the Church of the Redeemer, 222 S. Palm Avenue in Sarasota.
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
A special report from NPR http://www.npr.org/2011/03/07/134002013/ending-homelessness-a-model-that-just-might-work&sc=nl&cc=es-20110313
Friday, March 11, 2011
Second Community Workshop on Ending Homelessness in Sarasota
This afternoon, Friday March 11, was the second community workshop in support of the ten year plan to prevent and end homelessness in Sarasota county. We again had a strong turnout of people willing to work, including lots of newcomers and a number of citizens who are presently homeless. The Church of the Redeemer was again our most gracious host and I thank them
Five work groups met for 90 minutes while I led a discussion group made up of three people sleeping in the woods and seven folks who had shelter. Both men who are presently homeless were eager to work despite suffering recent long term unemployment. One gentleman had a successful career as a surveyor but now can’t find work of any type. The other man had recently secured employment, saved enough for rent, but couldn’t afford the deposits. He’s still homeless, as was a plucky sixty-three year old woman who told us about living in her tent, how she spends a cold night, and the lack of anything productive for her to do during the day.
The work groups reported back at the end of the afternoon and everyone seemed to have made significant progress. There is a lot of talent in the room and good ideas are emerging and assignments given out and completed. For the next community meeting, we will be in Venice at the South County commission chambers located in the R.L. Anderson complex, on Friday March 25th at 1:30. Then we will be back in Sarasota on April 8th at the Church of the Redeemer again.