Dear Mayor Jacobs and Mayor Dyer,
It has come to my attention that the Commission on Homelessness, which has been under fire for quite some time, has now recommended the commission “cease to exist.” At this time of crisis in our community regarding homelessness, this is unacceptable. I urge you to use this as an opportunity to lead on the issue and double-down as part of the solution. Too often, I’m afraid it seems we choose to outsource our problems rather than solve them ourselves. We must change course and we must act. After five years of failure with the current Commission, three times as many people are without homes in Central Florida. We must do better.
We can list the effects homelessness brings to the community, including: an illusion of disorder, fear of crime, increase calls for service from police, city response and issues of mental health and addiction. Government throws a lot of money and support at these things but unless we’re addressing the root causes and offering a complete solution, it will be of little use. I call on you both to use your positions and agendas to begin working on the following:
- Host a Community Night Out town hall on homelessness in Orange County and the City of Orlando, involving the entire community in the solution. These Community Nights Out must be free and open to the public, unlike the upcoming Florida Forward: Confronting Homelessness discussion with Mayor Dyer costing $40 per ticket;
- Convene a series of open working meetings for all major players AND members of the community and homeless residents to attend at City Hall and the Orange County Administration Building with both Mayors;
- Set up an business advisory council to address issues and solutions of homelessness on a regular basis with direct contact and monthly reporting obligations to both Mayors;
- Develop a task force set with the objective to go into the community and survey homeless residents and try to place them in programs that will help – taking resources to those in need on the street and identifying those who are chronically homeless and most at-risk to help as a priority;
- Pledge to invest in more drug and mental health rehabilitation centers as part of our public safety plans;
- Pledge to improve and strengthen our public education and use your positions to lobby Tallahassee for more funding;
- Pledge to create more affordable housing as part of the solution. This is a long-term issue facing our community and we have to plan to address the growing and changing demands.
I thank you both for your leadership in our community and I urge you to make addressing homelessness an urgent priority. We are in a crisis. These ideas are not the entire solution but they do represent forward-thinking, proactive steps we can take right now and rely on direct action and building relationships, trust and community to solve a very important social issue. Your people need you.
Thank you in advance for your actions to help end homelessness in our community. I’m happy to help in any way needed moving forward.