The Trust and the Miami-Dade County Community Homeless Plan have been hailed as models across the nation for their progressive approach to ending homelessness. The success of the Trust, the Homeless Plan and the Partnership is primarily as a result of the existence of a unique, dedicated funding source – the only one of its type in the Country. The Trust operates on an annual budget of approximately $40 million, comprised of local food and beverage tax proceeds, federal (United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, a/k/a HUD) and state funding. Approximately $30 million annually is provided through a competitive process via HUD, with more than $15 million resulting from Food and Beverage Tax collections. The balance is a combination of other state funding and private sector contributions through the Chapman Partnership. The Trust receives no general (ad valorem tax) funds from Miami-Dade County. More than 80 programs are funded by the Homeless Trust, providing everything from emergency, transitional and permanent supported housing, to legal assistance, employment services, mental health and substance abuse outpatient therapy, to street outreach.
The Chapman Partnership is another model of achievement, boasting a 63% success rate in placing Assistance Center residents into permanent or transitional housing. Overall, the implementation of the Miami-Dade County Community Homeless Plan has reduced homelessness on the streets of the County from an estimated 8,000 ten years ago, to fewer than 900 today. During the last year alone, more than 4,700 persons were placed in emergency beds, and another 10,300 persons were served in transitional and permanent housing programs.
HOMELESS AWARENESS DAY is coordinated by the Homeless Trust to educate the community on the ongoing needs of the homeless and what the community can do to help. During our visit to the Chapman Partnership’s North Center, we were asked to return to our respective cities and ask that they declare November 15, 2012, as Homeless Awareness Day. I did, and at the October Sunny Isles Beach Commission meeting Mayor Edelcup gave to me on behalf of the Trust, a Proclamation declaring November 15, 2012, as Homeless Awareness Day in Sunny Isles Beach. On Friday, October 26, I attended the Homeless Trust’s Board Meeting and on behalf of Sunny Isles Beach, I proudly presented our City’s Proclamation to Ron Book, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, who accepted on behalf of the Trust. I was also instrumental in beginning a dialogue directly between the Trust and our police department to improve services to homeless persons by putting the Trust’s Executive Director, Hilda Fernandez, in touch with our Chief of Police, Fred Maas. The Sunny Isles Beach Police Department recently hosted a meeting with some surrounding police departments, the Homeless Trust, and the Trust’s Homeless Outreach Teams, to educate the police forces on how they can assist the homeless in their respective areas and better coordinate the services that are available and can be provided to the homeless.
HOMELESS AWARENESS DAY includes many activities designed to educate our community about the plight of homelessness and what is being done to end it. The events include “cardboard brigades” of high school students and student rallies at local universities. Our County Mayor, Carlos A. Gimenez, is also hosting a business forum to share with businesses how they, too, can help us end homelessness. Details will be unveiled during the “Mayor’s Forum on Ending Homelessness” on an enhanced telephone and web-based helpline that builds upon the 17- year-old Project HOPE program (HOmeless Program for Employment) operated by Jewish Community Services (JCS) of South Florida’s Rehabilitation and Employment Division and funded by the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust. The HOPE initiative provides businesses with homeless/formerly homeless, jobready candidates, as well as providing vocational training and job development services to individuals transitioning back into the community. The centralized helpline makes it easy for businesses to access a pool of pre-qualified individuals by simply calling or emailing their list of available positions and job requirements. JCS then matches employees with the needs of the companies. JCS’ successful “day labor” program provides supervised temp like employment services to local businesses for up to 30 days, during which time JCS covers the costs of FICA, and Worker’s Compensation, medical and unemployment insurance. Individuals in the HOPE program have been placed in local businesses doing everything from landscaping to clerical work. Many have been subsequently hired by the businesses. Mayor Gimenez will also recognize local businesses that are already doing their part to help end homelessness in our community by either hiring homeless/formerly homeless persons or adopting donation meters to raise funds to house homeless families.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO HELP THE HOMELESS
Businesses interested in hiring formerly homeless individuals who are job-ready, can call 305-403-6570.
Local organizations, private corporations and individuals may sponsor an “Adopt-AHomeless Donation Meter”, a Trust program that permits the sponsorship of a Romero Britto inspired collection meter to promote public awareness of homelessness and discourage panhandling. 100% of the spare change collected in the meters is used for shelter and indoor meal programs for people experiencing homelessness. To learn more call 305-375-1490 or visit www.miamidade.gov/homeless/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate cash, goods or services and for corporate sponsorships call 877-548- 2206 or visit www.chapmanpartnership.org/donate.html.
You can volunteer at either of the Chapman Partnership’s Centers located in downtown Miami or Homestead—individually or as a group, on weekdays and weekends, and during the daytime and evening hours. For information call 305-329-3030 or e-mail email@example.com.
To refer a homeless person(s) to housing and/or services, contact the Homeless Helpline at (305) 375-CARE (2273) or Toll Free 1-877-994-HELP (4357).
For information, call the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust at (305) 375-1490.
Much of the information contained in this article was compiled from the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust and Chapman Partnership websites and related links. See, www.miamidade.gov/homeless/ and www.chapmanpartnership.org/index.php. I would like to especially thank Hilda Fernandez, Executive Director of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust, and Lisa Mozloom of The MNetwork, for their assistance and input.