Collaborative Effort Marks Milestone in Helping the Homeless
Days after county, city, business and faith-based leaders gathered at Fort Lauderdale City Hall to announce the Homelessness Collaborative in Broward, the efforts of so many began to make a major impact. "Housing first" has been the motto and it showed, as all those living within the homeless encampment in Downtown Fort Lauderdale voluntarily moved out of their tents and received housing of some fashion for the holidays. Now, the work is just beginning. The need for help remains large. Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Dan Lindblade is part of a team that's looking for units to house those in need, as the collaborative sets its sights on not only helping the homeless in Fort Lauderdale but all across Broward County.
On November 29th, the Chamber's Board of Directors heard firsthand from Fort Lauderdale Mayor Dean Trantalis, who announced that dozens of people had been provided shelter within days of the initiative being launched during a press conference at City Hall. It was during that gathering that Castle Group CEO James Donnelly spoke and explained the business community's role in the homelessness initiative. He highlighted four pillars: philanthropy, influence and oversight, finding housing and finding employment for those being helped off the streets.
For more on the collaborative's mission, here's a recent release provided by the City of Fort Lauderdale:
The Homelessness Collaborative in Broward reached a major milestone this week when the last individuals and families remaining in the downtown Fort Lauderdale encampment voluntarily moved out along with their pets and belongings, the first step in their journey towards realization of A Home for the Holidays.
80 individuals left the encampment.
All 41 tents were removed with owner approval.
Every pre-identified resident of the encampment who wanted services was offered services.
Three individuals were reunited with family members in Illinois, Texas and Oregon.
28 households are eligible for Rapid Rehousing units. Rapid rehousing helps people obtain housing quickly, without preconditions such as employment, income or sobriety, and allows them to increase self-sufficiency by providing short-term rental assistance and supportive services to get people back on their feet.
26 households are eligible for Permanent Supportive Housing. Permanent supportive housing promotes independent living with ongoing financial assistance and connections to community-based healthcare, treatment and employment services.
Eight individuals and two families were placed in shelters and will continue to work with case managers on permanent housing solutions.
Individuals and families will begin to be placed in their new homes on Monday, December 3. Apartments are being furnished through the generosity of City Furniture.
These successes were the result of adopting the nationally recognized best practice "housing first" approach to assisting individuals experiencing homelessness. Months of work and planning by more than 40 public and private partners went into the work of the Collaborative, which was founded by Broward County, the City of Fort Lauderdale, United Way of Broward County, the Broward Business Council on Homelessness and the Broward Homeless Continuum of Care.
United Way of Broward County and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance also founded the Broward Business Council on Homelessness, which allocated and raised millions of dollars in funding from a variety of businesses and not-for-profit organizations. Early on, AutoNation and Operation Lift Hope each contributed up to $300,000 to the Council, and challenged others in the business community to match that amount. View Business Council Contributors
The Broward County Board of County Commissioners allocated $1.2 million and the City of Fort Lauderdale Commission allocated $800,000 in new funding for this effort.
While the closure of the encampment is an important milestone, it is by no means the final chapter in this story.
Housing teams continue to move clients forward in the path to permanent housing. Outreach teams continue to address the needs not only of those who formerly stayed in the encampment, but also those who were not previously identified as residents of the encampment, who came to the encampment seeking services, and those experiencing homelessness in Broward County every day. There are at least 2,300 individuals experiencing homelessness in Broward County, according to the January 2018 Point-in-Time count.
Anyone experiencing homelessness encountered at the encampment during this process that has made themselves known to staff has either been accepted into the Broward Homeless Continuum of Care system for the first time, or their client histories have been updated for their most current needs.
Anyone experiencing homelessness in Broward County is urged to call the Homeless Helpline at 954-563-HELP (4357) to learn about services available through the Broward Homeless Continuum of Care. The Continuum of Care is funded by the Broward County Commission, who has previously allocated $13.8 million in county, state and federal funds toward home prevention services, and $23 million in county and federal funds in homeless intervention services, in addition to $1.2 million provided for the encampment project specifically.