Dear Members and Advocates,
Florida homelessness ranks third in the nation, reporting 27,487 homeless people (HUD’s Annual Homeless Assessment Report)
We frequently receive reports and stories of persons and families forced into homelessness because of SO Residency Restrictions (SORR). Often, they have homes to go to during the day, but Residency Restrictions force them into the homeless status at night….you know, after 10pm when there are no children at the schools, playgrounds, daycare centers and parks. Where is the logic in this? It’s completely senseless and has nothing to do with public safety.
The solution is very simple – let them stay in their homes with their families. Instead, cities and counties are proposing horrible “solutions” that are extreme and irrational. Law enforcement is being directed to break up the camps with threats of arrests for trespassing; camps are being bulldozed; what little possessions people gathered to survive are crushed, buried or loaded into dumpsters.
More recently, the Volusia Sheriff began raiding tents on the beaches for what he claims are housing SOs (registered persons) and Pinellas county recently forced homeless persons on probation to leave a wooded area – as though they were hiding from the law in tents on the beaches and in the woods, when they were just seeking the only shelter they can find. Law enforcement and probation know exactly where they are because either they put them there, or they are being electronically monitored.
Miami Beach is proposing a new approach that would arrest homeless persons who refuse to go to shelters. Perhaps asking homeless persons to go to shelters is not such as bad idea for those on the Registry who have no other place to go. I say this because, at present, most shelters are not allowing persons on the Registry to be there. So, if they are presented with the choice to go to the shelter, and they accept that choice, then the shelter can no longer deny them access to the safety, comfort and services offered at that shelter.
While there isn’t a single solution that can completely eliminate homelessness, there are several strategies that communities and governments can implement to reduce and mitigate homelessness. We can say with certainty that Residency Restrictions for persons on the Registry are contributing to the increased numbers. As more persons are added to the Registry and fewer housing options meet SORR requirements, then this problem is going to continue to worsen.
One tourniquet that can be applied to stop the bleeding is to repeal all Residency Restrictions that go beyond the state’s 1000’ rule. If counties and cities would just roll-back the 1500’-2500′ restrictions to the state’s 1000′ rule, communities would see an immediate drop in homelessness. But that would only be a temporary measure because sooner or later the number of registered persons will outnumber the state’s “qualified” addresses within 1000’ as well.
Research shows that cities with proven success in reducing homelessness have each applied the “Housing First” principle that focuses on quickly moving individuals experiencing homelessness into stable housing, without preconditions or barriers. Once housing is secured, other services and needs can be addressed, including public safety. What faster way to move individuals into stable housing than to let them return to their own homes and families.
A quick Google search returned dozens of organizations in Florida alone that are dedicated to helping the homeless. We encourage members to find out about Homeless Coalitions in their area and take an active seat at their table to ensure registered citizens are included in their services, and to encourage the agencies to advocate for the removal of Residency Restrictions. Here are just are two organizations to follow: Florida Coalition to End Homelessness (FCEH) and the Miami Coalition to Advance Racial Equality (MCARE). We will be sure to invite these agencies to speak at an upcoming FAC Monthly Membership call.
The Florida Action Committee (FAC)
Monday Night Support Group – Open to registered citizens and family members, every Monday at 8pmET. Call 760-548-9898 to participate in a group support call facilitated by FAC Regional Coordinators. Find comfort, motivation and encouragement with other members in this no-judgement zone as they share common concerns and interests.
Monthly Membership Call – Thu Sep 7 at 8pm ET. 319-527-3487. Topic: NARSOL and Affiliates. If you have any problem connecting to the call for free, you can text CALL ME to 319-527-3487 for a call back from Free Conference Call and you will be connected to the meeting at no charge.
New Member Orientation Call – Thu Sep 14 at 8pm ET. 319-527-3487. NO Agenda. Call in to learn more about the organization, volunteer opportunities, where to find support, get resources and referrals, or just share information. If you have any problem connecting for free, you can text CALL ME to 319-527-3487 for a call back from Free Conference Call and you will be connected to the meeting at no charge.
Family Support Group – Sat Sep 9 from 11am-1pm. By Invitation only for non-registered family members with loved ones on the Registry. Must be an FAC member. To participate, contact [email protected] or call 833-273-7325, Option 1.
Legislative Delegation Meetings – Check schedule for meeting near you. This is your opportunity to speak publicly on issues that concern your family and our community. For help in preparing a 3-minute speech, or to learn more about the meetings, join the legislative team by contacting [email protected] or leave message at call 822-273-7325.
MEET and GREETS
Sat Aug 19-Highlands County- 11am-2pm RSVP to Morris at [email protected] or leave message at 863-256-3026
Sat Sep 9- Sarasota/Manatee County- 1pm-4pm RSVP to [email protected] or call 941-500-4706
Sat Sep 23- Lee County -Noon – 3pm RSVP to [email protected] or text/call 941-677-3951
Sat Sep 30- Pasco County -2pm-5pm RSVP to [email protected] or call or text 727-999-4716.
Support Staff Needed- If you have some time and want to be more involved, email [email protected] or call 833-273-7325,Option 1.
Staff Writers are needed for articles, posts and Weekly Updates. If you have a story, article or topic of interest to share, please submit it to [email protected]
Membership Communications – Return phone calls and emails from members seeking information. Training provided.
PenPal Communications – Respond to letters from inmates seeking information and support. Training provided.
With Unity Comes Change -Get Involved and Volunteer Today!
Florida Action Committee