Is Homelessness an Epidemic in Florida?
Homelessness is said to be reaching a crisis level in Florida. That's the message to Governor-Elect Rick Scott from a state appointed council.
The council is calling Scott & the state legislature to take action on the statewide issue.
The Florida Council On Homelessness said Florida has the third highest number of homeless people in the nation. The council's chairperson is from Gainesville and he believes that no one in the government or in the public, really knows the full extent of the problem.
Chair of the council Jeff McAdams said, "No one has done a study in the state of Florida that really makes it comprehensive of the total economic impact and environmental impact and other impacts that's caused on our society."
The council is asking the new governor and his cabinet to appoint a task force of representatives from state university's to study and determine the implications of homelessness on Florida. McAdams said, "The unintended consequences that we don't think about every day when we sit down at the dinner table is the environmental impact, the personal impact, the growing homeless population amongst the population that we wouldn't normally think that's in homelessness. Like your neighbors, people who have lost their jobs, who are down on their luck."
McAdams said, homeless camps or "tent cities," like this one near Southeast 16th Avenue in Gainesville, are growing in numbers all over the city, county and state. He said, "We're seeing that the problem is getting worse in larger cities across the state of Florida."
McAdams said homelessness is an epidemic that can only be solved with a statewide effort that focuses on jobs, affordable housing and reallocating money being spent in reaction to the issues involved with homelessness. He said, "That's where we feel the study will absolutely show that there's money that can be reallocated into putting these people back to work and making them productive citizens again."
The council's goal is to have the entire community help solve this problem. McAdams said, "It needs to be a holistic approach. We all need to come to the table and we all need to play a part in fixing the problem that eventually if we don't have a solution to the problem, it's gonna make it worse for the entire state of Florida and it's gonna make economic recovery that much more difficult."
The council is asking that Lieutenant Governor Elect, Jennifer Carroll, be appointed to chair the council on homelessness.
McAdams said he would gladly step down as chair to make sure these issues reach Governor Elect Scott directly.
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