Members of the Orlando Regional Chamber’s Board of Governors received an “Executive Briefing” by Tracy Schmidt, CFO of CNL Financial Group and Volunteer Co-Chair of the Central Florida Regional Commission on Homelessness. Included were a review of the Commission’s extensive research on the issue as well as its recommendations that are part of a 61-page Draft Report that is being “vetted” across the region for reaction and response from different sectors of the community including business, faith-based, service providers and more.
Tracy Schmidt, Co-Chair of Regional Commission
Debugging the myths of homelessness, understanding that 80% of those affected are episodically homeless, leaving 20% who are chronically homeless particularly due to substance abuse, mental illness, or physical disabilities, the Commission calls for compassionate and systemic solutions.
This issue is being addressed across the nation, with 180 communities having completed the design of ten-year plans to end homelessness and 130 communities still in the development stages. The Central Florida Commission hopes to learn from those who are having success and tailoring a plan that is right and reasonable for our region.
The Commission is a coalition of three Central Florida counties (Orange, Osceola and Seminole) and the City of Orlando, but the challenges of homelessness are being faced by cities and towns across the Central Florida region. The Commission emphasizes that this is a regional issue and will require regional solutions.
As reported in last week’s issue of Every Monday, the statistics are staggering. The statistics are staggering. In the tri-county area alone, it is estimated that 8,000-10,000 people are homeless each year, with 4,500 to 6,000 homeless on any given day. An additional 2,400 children are homeless. Homelessness happens every day and often goes unnoticed. This information, as well as additional data outlining demographics, educational attainment, family, employment and veteran status, is included in the report.
Schmidt reported that if these numbers of homeless were a result of a natural disaster like a hurricane, everyone would be jumping on the bandwagon with solutions and support. But, because homelessness happens one person at a time, it has become an invisible issue.
Questions and comments raised by members of the Board of Governors included:
With 40% of the homeless who are veterans, how can we enlist the support of the federal government, especially with the recent announcement of the Veterans Administration Hospital being built in our region?
With the large number of service industry employers in Central Florida, how can the Commission reach out to those employers regarding affordable housing and a living wage?
Can we bring accountability to the Regional Commission on Homelessness by structuring it as a public/Private partnership rather than a government body?
Which of those communities across the nation addressing the issue are doing it right? Which are the best that we can learn from? (Portland and Minneapolis have stood out as prototypes to consider.)
With the current housing foreclosure crisis, how can we educate the public by telling the stories of our homeless population? (WKMG Channel Six has run a weeklong series on the faces of homelessness. This type of outreach is critical to educating the public.)
Board members were surprised to learn that the fastest growing segments of the homeless population are women with children and veterans. Homelessness might be considered as a “pay now or pay later” challenge, but the overarching solution is not just additional dollars, it is adding the human touch of hope.
Ed Timberlake, Chair, myregion.org and Tracy Schmidt, Co-Chair of Regional Commission on Homelessness .
The final meeting of the Central Florida Regional Commission on Homelessness will be held on Wednesday, February 13, at 10:15 a.m. in the 9th Floor Overlook Room of Orlando City Hall. Discussion and approval of the final version of the 10-year Plan to End Homelessness will take place from 10:15 to 11:15 a.m. and will be followed by a signing ceremony/media event. Tracy Schmidt will also announce the formation of a Permanent Commission — and its composition — and officially hand the final report to the leadership of the new commission.
Orange County Mayor Richard Crotty and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer have both agreed to be the political co-chairs of the new permanent commission. A prominent local businessman has also agreed to serve as its working/managing chair. It is hoped that other announcements concerning the permanent commission will also be made that day.
For answers to the questions raised or to access a copy of the complete report, visit: http://www.cfhomelesscommission.org
In closing the Briefing Meeting, Jacob Stuart “connected the dots” between the Central Florida Partnership, the Orlando Regional Chamber, myregion.org, and the Central Florida Regional Commission on Homelessness and why it has important to provide assistance to the Commission in its outreach to our members as well as to other business and civic organizations throughout the region.
He ended with a quote from U. S. President Hubert H. Humphrey who said, “If government had all the money to solve these problems, it would never have the heart.” He challenged business leaders to take this message to heart and join in the solution.
As mentioned earlier, WKMG Channel 6 recently broadcast a weeklong news series telling stories of the homeless. In case you missed it, links are provided below.
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These links will remain active for the remainder of this week.
Central Florida Partnership - Ideas to Results
Improving Central Florida’s economic vitality and quality of life by focusing on transportation, public policy advocacy, regional leadership, entrepreneurial growth and regional planning.
Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce
Shaping our community’s future by focusing on what matters to the millions of people who call Central Florida home. Your business. Your community. Your future. Your chamber.
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