Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Another Housing View

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Another Housing View

Article excerpt

Salvation Army spearheads study of options to complement any new shelter

HOMELESSNESS: Salvation Army's study looks at other housing options

The strategies have different names -- rapid rehousing, housing first, rental assistance -- but the goal is the same: Finding homeless people a permanent place to live.

Every community seems to approach the problem slightly differently. On Thursday researchers contracted by the Sarasota Salvation Army presented the best ideas from around the country.

Salvation Army area commander Ethan Frizzell is not sure which housing strategy is most appropriate for the Sarasota region, but said he is confident of one thing: "This can be done. This is not an impossible task."

Frizzell initiated the research to complement recent efforts by Sarasota County and the city of Sarasota to address homelessness.

The local governments are moving toward building another homeless shelter to help address the region's increase in homeless individuals and families.

Salvation Army officials say equal attention should be given to moving the homeless out of shelters and into affordable rentals.

The Harvard graduate students hired for the research found a variety of model programs. Their final report will not be completed until next week but many of the ideas were summarized during a public meeting at the Salvation Army, which drew about 75 people. They include:

Housing first -- this strategy is used to help the chronically homeless, which make up about 15.8 percent of the homeless population. Rather than house these people in shelters, some communities pay for rentals or other housing. This "unconditional housing" can be controversial but the researchers presented data from places such as Maine, Utah and Tampa showing the program can save money. The cost in Utah is $6,504 annually per beneficiary versus $7,165 for shelter housing.

Rapid Rehousing -- targeted at people who are newly homeless or on the verge of homelessness, this strategy tries to keep people from becoming chronically homeless by providing immediate housing. …

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