Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Rick Scott Slashes $2m in Homeless Assistance

Ripples of outrage have been spreading all week since the approval of the latest Florida state budget. Mixed into the piles of public services gutted from next years budget were millions allocated to government sponsored local homelessness initiatives.

Here in Fort Lauderdale, $800,000 ii funding for the Rapid Re-Housing program was vetoed. Much like the infamous budget cuts that killed the Sunrail, Rick Scott's veto pen is actually stopping the flow of federal dollars, in this case from HUD, from helping the general public and the very needy statewide. 

Rapid Re-Housing has been the City of Fort Lauderdale's lynchpin plan for reducing homelessness in downtown; throughout the last several years of controversy around Fort Lauderdale's homeless policies, City officials have always pointed to Housing First & Rapid Re-Housing as proof of the good intent. At this time it is unclear if and how the City will be able to keep the program funded for the next year. 

As this blog is getting fairly tired of reporting, this budget cut is part of ongoing hot streak of homeless service cuts effecting downtown Ft Lauderdale, including but limited to, the sharing ban, the closure of the Homeless Voice, and the shutdown of homeless outreach services at "The Tree."

Here's a full list of homeless services cut by Rick Scott this week, some of which has already been stirring up controversy:

Citrus Health Network for the Safe Haven for Homeless Youth Program - $100,00
Miami-Dade Homeless Trust - $189,794
Eckerd and Brevard C.A.R.E.S (homelessness intervention and prevention services) $500,000
Jacksonville SOAR Outreach Program (chronically homeless persons) $97,000
Metropolitan Ministries-Pasco Transitional Housing $1,000,000
City of Ft. Lauderdale Rapid Rehousing Project $800,000
Clearwater Homeless Emergency Project  $400,000

Monday, June 1, 2015

Tree Closing is Yet Another City Hate Law

As of today, "The Tree," the informal meeting place for homeless people to get in touch with County homeless services, is off the limits. The City wants to open the land on NW 2nd in between Andrews & 1st ave up for bidding for destruction and development. However, it also conveniently fits into the City's overall effort to ban and displace homeless people and their homeless services from downtown Ft Lauderdale, particularly north of Broward Blvd in the area of the bus terminal.

The shutdown of the Tree is the latest in a countless string of closures of homeless services in the last few years, from the buy-out of the Homeless Voice to last fall's notorious attempts to shut down all outdoor food sharing organizations downtown. Despite the fact that one of the county's main outreach efforts as part of its Homeless Initiative operates at this location, many of these services will be cut without a replacement location being provided.

Homeless advocates and others who have experienced the services provided at the tree will be gathering on Monday, June 1st, to mark this somber occasion and discuss the urgent demand for more inclusive spaces for the needy in downtown instead of more displacement tactics and bad City policy.