The task force is charged with developing three to five short and long term recommendations for housing and shelter, mental health, safety and security.
WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. (April 5, 2018) --
On April 5, 2018, under the direction of West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio, the City convened a Task Force on Homelessness and Mental Health. The Task Force, led by Housing and Community Development Director Armando Fana, is charged with developing three to five short and long term recommendations for housing and shelter, mental health, safety and security. The recommendations-- which may include funding and staffing resources, better coordination among agencies, ordinances, etc. -- will be presented to the City Commission and other stakeholders for approval and funding in 60 days.
“We are grateful to our partners for joining with us in this effort, said West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio. “We have assembled a wonderful team to tackle a very big issue faced by not only West Palm Beach but also municipalities across the country. I look forward to seeing their recommendations.”
The Homelessness and Mental Health Task Force participants include:
- West Palm Beach residents, community members and merchants
- Office of the State Attorney
- Palm Beach County
- Downtown Development Authority
- Homeless Coalition
- St. Ann Place
- Lord’s Place
- Senator Philip D. Lewis Center
- Jerome C. Golden Center for Behavioral Health
- West Palm Beach Police Department (WPBPD)
- PCS Security
- Habitat for Humanity.
“The City remains determined to eradicating homelessness by providing direct homelessness assistance and building partnerships that increase homeless outreach efforts, housing for the homeless, and access to mental health and substance abuse treatment,” said HCD Director Armando Fana.
Recently, the City announced it has seen a reduction of its on-street homeless population by 14% in the last year, according to the latest Point-in-Time (PIT) Count. The annual count conducted by Palm Beach County in January 2018 identified 426 unsheltered residents, down from 498 unsheltered residents in January 2017. At least 39-of those individuals were diverted from homelessness as a result of City programs.
The City continues providing assistance to the City’s homeless population with the goal of finding permanent homes for our most vulnerable residents. The City’s Housing and Community Development Department (HCD) continues to work with the Lord’s Place and other organizations to help the homeless get into homes.
Numerous factors may contribute to the issue of homelessness including the state of the economy, the opioid crisis, mental/behavioral health, and federal funding for mental health. The City is working with the County to add more beds for homeless residents at the Senator Philip D. Lewis Homeless Resource Center.
The City has developed the following initiatives and programs with the goal of finding permanent homes for our most vulnerable residents:
- Partnership with to the Lord's Place-
o Donation of City owned duplexes for transitional/ supportive housing.
o Awarded funds for the Peer Outreach Program which provides screening and support services to West Palm Beach homeless.
- Homeward Bound Program - Provides a non-refundable/non-transferable transportation ticket and care package to assist homeless persons to reunite with their families within the United States.
- Housing Stabilization Program - Provides one-time funding for rent, security deposit and/or utility deposits for applicants facing evictions or experiencing homelessness.
- Real Change Movement - The Real Change Movement is a partnership between the Homeless Coalition of Palm Beach County and the City of West Palm Beach. The City has re-purposed a total of 10 parking meters in downtown West Palm Beach for donations by the public. The City will match the funds collected in the meters by up to $50K, and the funds are utilized for permanent housing for the homeless. This initiative also provides education and awareness to the public on homelessness and panhandling.
- Training and Referral Services through Vickers House Division – Provides on-site support, counseling, trainings, referrals and numerous services such as tax preparation, resume development, job training programs, special health services, and more.
- Permanent Supportive Housing-The City is providing financial incentives and support to non-profit providers of supportive housing for special needs populations such as the elderly and disabled that are most at risk for homelessness. There are 130 units of additional permanent supportive housing scheduled to begin construction in 2018 within the City
- Housing Opportunities for People with AIDS Program - The Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) Program is the only federal program dedicated to the housing needs of people living with HIV/AIDS. The City has awarded grants to the Palm Beach County Housing Authority and the Jerome Golden Center For Behavioral Health, Inc., in order to provide housing throughout Palm Beach County.
For more information about the City’s outreach efforts, please visit wpb.org/hcd