Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Game-Changer for the Homeless?

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Game-Changer for the Homeless?

Article excerpt

For those annoyed by the homeless or who have grown weary of the high costs of homelessness, this community may well be at a turning point.

In a development that could portend major change in how we deal with homelessness, 100 of Jacksonville's most vulnerable are about to be provided housing and support to ensure they don't return to the streets.

The 100 are being selected based on a survey taken in early morning hours last week when 80 volunteers sought out and interviewed homeless people.

They identified 419 in the downtown area and conducted in-depth interviews with 358.


Now the 100 Homes Jacksonville initiative will find homes for the 100 determined to be the most vulnerable, meaning they are most likely to die if left on the streets.

Unlike other programs, 100 Homes attempts to get at root causes and break the cycle of homelessness u more than a hot meal, a night in a shelter or "three hots and a cot" at the jail.

At an average annual cost of $12,000, each of the 100 will also receive support services to deal with health and other issues that contributed to the person becoming homeless to begin with.

Compare this cost to just one emergency room visit.

Similar programs in other cities have had a success rate of 85 percent, meaning of those provided housing, only 15 percent returned to homelessness after a year.

Lessons learned elsewhere show that when the homeless are provided housing and support services, the vast majority never go back to the streets. Many even find jobs and become self-supporting.

Under a similar program in New York City, the Times Square area was essentially rid of homelessness.

In Denver, officials project that the cost savings of getting each homeless person off the street amounts to $30,000 a year.


100 Homes Jacksonville is being directed by a coalition that includes Ability Housing, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Emergency Services & Homeless Coalition of Northeast Florida. It is associated with a larger 100,000 Homes effort in cities across the U.S.

The VA, which has an ambitious goal of ending homelessness among veterans in five years, will provide housing for 50 veterans as part of the program.

The nonprofit groups have funds and housing for 12 of the other 50 identified and expect to find the balance.

All 100 are expected to be off the streets in a few weeks, if sufficient support can be identified by the coalition, which includes businesses, faith groups and non-profits. …

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