MAYOR JERI MUOIO TO CONVENE WORK GROUP ON HOMELESSNESS & MENTAL HEALTH
The Mayor’s Work Group on Homelessness and Mental Health will be comprised of community, city, county and state representatives.
WEST PALM BEACH, FLA. (March 12, 2018)-- As the safety and wellbeing of residents and visitors remains a top priority for West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio and her administration, Mayor Muoio has directed the creation of a special work group on homelessness and mental health. The Mayor’s Work Group on Homelessness and Mental Health will be comprised of community, city, county and state representatives. This work group will examine current practices and identify unmet needs in our community in the areas of homelessness and mental health and will develop any recommendations to be presented to the City Commission in 60 days. The Mayor’s Work Group on Homelessness and Mental Health will be chaired by Armando Fana, City of West Palm Beach Housing and Community Development Director.
Invited participants will include:
· Office of the State Attorney
· Palm Beach County
· Downtown Development Authority (DDA)
· Homeless Coalition
· St. Ann Place
· Lord’s Place
· Senator Philip D. Lewis Center
· West Palm Beach merchants (2)
· West Palm Beach community members (2)
· Jerome C. Golden Center for Behavioral Health
· Office of the City Attorney
· West Palm Beach Police Department (WPBPD)
· PCS Security.
Earlier today, Mayor Muoio and City administrators met with members of the board of directors of the DDA, the WPBPD, and the City Attorney’s Office to discuss additional measures to improve our downtown. With enhanced communication, the WPBPD and private security guards will continue to patrol the downtown area and remain a vigilant and visible presence, particularly, on Clematis Street. Panhandling violations will continue to be enforced, an effort that will soon be communicated to potential violators with new signs in the Clematis Street area. Merchants and citizens concerned about safety are asked to call 911 in the event of an emergency or contact the West Palm Beach Police non-emergency number at (561) 822-1900.
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. Even though Palm Beach County does not operate a homeless shelter, 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.