On May 23rd, the Leon County Commission will hold a workshop focused on homelessness. During the workshop, the Commission will be provided a report related to the issue along with a number of proposed actions.
Staff is asking the Commission for an additional $500,021 in Federal Local Assistance and Tribal Consistency Funding to expand emergency homeless shelters. Additionally, staff is asking for the joint agreement between Leon County, City of Tallahassee and Big Bend Continuum of Care (COC) to be extended for an additional year to utilize the $625,000 of the American Rescue Plan Act funds to continue programs for the homeless.
Additional staff recommendations include:
*Continue to support the Sheriff’s HOST Deputies with County ARPA funding previously allocated to the Sheriff’s Office for the positions.
*Direct staff to develop a countywide ordinance to make it unlawful to hold a sign or display advertisement in the median of a road for any reason.
*Adopt a community campaign to reduce panhandling that includes the establishment of signs developed in partnership with the City of Tallahassee and Big Bend Continuum of Care, to be placed at medians on select County roads.
*Direct staff to bring back an agenda item to explore options for long-term and dedicated line-item funding for emergency homeless shelters for FY 2025.
*Direct staff to develop a draft policy to require affordable rental developments seeking County funding or bond authorization to set aside a portion of the units for individuals or families exiting homelessness.
The Number of Homeless Increase in 2023
According to the National Alliance to End Homelessness, 2022 saw the highest number of homeless in the recorded history of data collection. The COC has been recognized by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and the State of Florida as the regional planning and oversight organization for homelessness in Leon County. The COC Governing Board includes a City Commissioner, a County Commissioner, representatives from FAMU, FSU, TCC and homeless service providers.
Each year during the last week of January, the COC conducts a Point-In-Time count of the homeless (PIT). The PIT allows the COC to evaluate the top priorities to develop recommendations that address the highest need of our community’s homelessness crisis. The PIT count consists of COC leaders physically counting each individual who is experiencing homelessness.
The 2023 PIT count indicates that the community experienced a 22% increase (801 vs. 659 in 2022) in the overall homeless population after three consecutive years of reductions. The PIT count covers an 8-county region which includes Gadsden, Leon, Wakulla, Jefferson, Liberty, Franklin, Madison and Taylor counties.