State Homeless Funding Could Be Cut
Governor Rick Scott's proposed budget cuts have caused controversy with teachers, law enforcement, firefighters and now...the homeless.
Scott's plan completely eliminates state dollars to help the homeless. But it won't necessarily mean fewer beds in shelters. At least not right away.
The proposed cut is just under $7 million. Last year that money paid for the State Council On Homelessness, Homeless Coalition staff statewide and for county grants. In Alachua County, where homelessness has increased 38% in the last year, the loss would be about $500 thousand, which some call catastrophic.
Executive Director of the Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry Max Tipping said, "The safety net is just being slowly, slowly whittled away." Tipping, whose position is paid for by a state grant, says the loss of funding would cripple the coordination of services locally. And other funding sources, like the federal grant that provides for homelessness prevention are expiring. He said, "There's going to be less money available for both preventing homelessness, with helping people stay in the houses they have now and then there's also going to be a lot less money available for getting people back into housing out of shelters."
It's a frightening thought for people like Randi Giddings, pregnant and staying at the St. Francis House. Giddings said, "In August, I want to be in a house, I want to be back to work and I actually want to have a place to call home for my baby."
St. Francis House recently received $52 thousand from the federal government for its emergency shelter, as did other organizations across the state. But Tipping says there are other services to break the cycle of homelessness that require state funding. He said, "It goes from everything from bus passes, to security deposits, to the point in time survey which we just did.
Alachua County got $63 thousand last year through the state challenge grant and $380 thousand for transitional housing. Tipping says without it, homelessness will rise. He said, "I think that the agencies that are left are gonna find it incredibly difficult to cope with that with even less resources then they had before."
A few months ago, the State Council On Homelessness asked Governor Scott to make homelessness a priority. On Friday, Council Chair Jeff McAdams, along with other local homeless service providers, will ask state lawmakers to restore funding for the homeless.
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