Housing the First 100: A Community Conversation
Two years ago, the City of Orlando and Florida Hospital made a big investment in the fight to make homelessness brief, one-time, and rare in Central Florida. Since then, government leaders, business professionals and on-the-ground service providers have been diligently working together to provide housing and 24-7 wraparound care to our most vulnerable neighbors: men and women who have been chronically homeless, some living on the streets for as long as twenty years.
On June 22, 2017, community members and leaders gathered at Florida Hospital’s Werner Auditorium to hear about the results of the pilot program.
As Kate Santich reported in the Orlando Sentinel, “By the end of May , the officials announced they had actually housed 168 people — all of whom suffer serious physical or mental illnesses that put them at great risk of dying on the street. Another 555 chronically homeless individuals with less serious disabilities also have been housed, saving what is projected to be millions of dollars each year in taxpayer money for uninsured medical care, police and jail costs.”
This program represents a significant step forward for our community. Equally important, we now know that we have developed a coordinated system that will allow us to identify every one of our homeless neighbors by name — and, when they choose, help them move toward housing. But there is so much more to do: Nearly 1,000 chronically homeless men and women are still waiting for housing. And our community needs to apply a similar coordinated system of care for our families and young people who find themselves homeless — systems that don’t yet exist.
Our community has worked hard to come so far, and there is more to do together. With our minds and hearts open to innovative and compassionate solutions, we can create programs that yield meaningful and life-changing results.