On January 24th 2023, the Leon County Commission held a discussion about the homelessness issue within Leon County and the steps the county is taking to help solve the ongoing problem.
Commissioner Christian Caban initiated the conversation by making a motion to establish a workshop to address the homeless problems. He noted the large number of homeless individuals on Pensacola St. and Monroe St.
Commissioner Bill Proctor added, “We want to be compassionate, but we’ve erred on the side of being soft.” He continued, “You don’t play hard ball using a plastic bat, and this is a hard ball issue.” Proctor also noted that, “We should probably look for best practices and some models from across the country.”
Commissioner Brian Welch suggested asking the Sheriff for a follow up on the HOST Program instead of a workshop. The Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST) Program is a program in which deputies with specialized training provide assistance and resources to homeless individuals. County Administrator Vincent S. Long stated that a follow up for the Host Program has been scheduled for the next meeting.
When Commissioner Welch asked if a HOST Program update could serve as an alternative to the workshop, Caban agreed and went on to say, “I do believe this is a growing concern specifically in District 2.”
Caban explained that a large portion of the residents in District 2 drive on Pensacola St. every day. He stated, “There are some things going on, on Pensacola St. that if I had a child, I would not want them to see at a young age.”
Commissioner Rick Minor addressed the $6.2 million that the county and city spent on homelessness efforts one year ago. Minor said that he has asked for an update presentation for the County Commission to help identify where the investment made improvements of the County’s homelessness efforts. He stated, “I think the public out there is looking for answers and looking for resolutions. We had a historical amount of investment in homelessness assistance efforts, and we need to really figure out how that money was spent.”
The HOST Program update will be presented to the commission at the next meeting in March, and the use of financial investments will be addressed at the March or April meeting.