Officials to unveil plan to end homelessness in area


Published: Thursday, December 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, December 1, 2005 at 12:39 a.m.

Facts

Goals of the initiative:

  • Providing 350 additional beds for the homeless.
  • Expanding affordable housing.
  • Creating a one-stop center.
  • Increasing access to free medical care.
  • Providing support services.
  • Increasing faith-based initiatives.
  • Increasing homelessness awareness among public safety agencies and the community.
  • Reducing the number of homeless arrests.
  • Homeless prevention.

  • A 10-year plan to end homelessness in Alachua County will be presented to the public today.
    It is the culmination of six months of work by officials from Alachua County and Gainesville, representatives of homeless providers, business interests and the homeless themselves.
    The report, which joins 205 other 10-year plans that are being implemented around the country, represents an attempt to move from just providing services to the homeless, said Philip Mangano, executive director of the federal Interagency Council on Homelessness.
    Those involved in the plan, under development since March, will meet at a countywide summit on homelessness today to review the plan. The summit runs from noon to 4 p.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. Multipurpose Center at 1028 NE 14th St.
    The focus is keeping people from becoming homeless or providing them the tools to help them move out of homelessness through the combined efforts of local, state and federal governments and the private sector, said Mangano, who will speak at today's event.
    "If there's one thing we've learned in the last 20 years from responding to homelessness, it's that no one level of government can get it done alone and no sector can get it done alone," Mangano said.
    Many of the key recommendations in the report focus on centralizing the coordination of services for the about 920 homeless residents in the county. This would be accomplished by establishing a joint city-county office to deal with homeless issues, creating a "one-stop" center for homeless services and expanding the use of a database to gather information on homeless residents and assist in referring them to providers.
    A rough estimate of the total cost of the nearly 90 programs listed in the report is $8.43 million, though those involved in drafting it said this may not accurately reflect the final cost of the plan, and it may include both federal and state money.
    However, the report was not drafted with the expectation that all the projects it contains will be implemented, said the Rev. Gordon Tremaine, chairman of the Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry.
    This structure will give the committee charged with implementing the plan, expected to be convened in January, the ability to select from a range of options as the plan moves along or new funding becomes available, Tremaine said.
    "This is not a static model, it's a very dynamic process," Tremaine said.
    The report also includes recommendations to develop more affordable housing, possibly by establishing a non-profit trust that could receive donations of property or money that could be used by service providers to house the homeless.
    Other recommendations include easing or eliminating ordinances that apply primarily to the homeless, such as limits on the number of meals or beds that can be provided at a center, providing counseling to the homeless and improving health care, employment services and other support services to the homeless.
    "People see this process as concluding," said County Commissioner Rodney Long. "I don't. I see it as just beginning because we're moving into implementation, and the implementation phase is probably the most important."
    Jeff Adelson can be reached at 352-374-5095 or adelsoj@gvillesun.com

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