Miami-Dade County fights to end homelessness

Miami Times staff report | 11/21/2013, 9 a.m.

As the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust marked its 20th anniversary during Homeless Awareness Day, board leaders announced that they have joined over 225 other communities nationwide in a national movement geared towards finding permanent homes for the chronic, most vulnerable homeless. Formally enrolling Miami-Dade County’s homeless continuum of care system into the “100,000 Homes” campaign is a critical next step in the county’s approach to ending chronic homelessness. This program uses proven tools and protocols that identify the most vulnerable homeless and prioritize their needs for housing placement. This effectively means the local system of care for the homeless is moving from a first-come-first-serve approach, to a system where the most vulnerable receive care first.

“This is a game changer for Miami-Dade County,” said Ronald L. Book, Chairman of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust. “As part of the Homeless Trust’s 10-point strategies to end chronic homelessness, we are joining 100,000 homes because their track-record is outstanding and we believe their evidence-based approach will be exactly what we need to meet HUD’s goal of ending chronic homelessness by 2015. HUD’s priority is our priority.”

It’s a four-pronged approach:

1) Utilize the “Housing First” approach, where the most vulnerable homeless are offered permanent housing and supportive services immediately, regardless of issues they may have related to substance abuse, mental illness or physical disabilities.

2) Know Who is Out There: Trained outreach workers and volunteers will utilize a special assessment tool designed to assist in identifying risk factors, and help prioritize placement for the most vulnerable during a “Registry Week” in January. This “registry” will allow the homeless system to match the neediest with the resources that become available.

3) Track Progress: The Trust will track progress against monthly placement goals and report movement in housing the chronically homeless.

4) Improve Local Systems: The Trust is already working to improve coordination among systems that often create homelessness and that provide resources to help homeless persons. Homeless Trust staff and key stakeholders have already been trained on the 100,000 Homes “registry” process. The first Registry Week is scheduled for January 20-22, 2014. Volunteers are needed to help conduct in-depth interviews that will begin the prioritization process. Individuals interested in volunteering can e-mail homelesstrust@miamidade.gov.