Mayor Joe Boles’ task force on homelessness held its second meeting last Tuesday, adopting a title and beginning its task of structuring a plan for our community according to City Public Affairs communique The St. Augustine Report received by Historic City News this morning.
Reduce Homelessness St. Johns is the task force’s new name and their aim is to raise the level of awareness and participation of the community to help find solutions that may someday end homelessness in our area.
“There’s no need to reinvent the wheel,” Task Force Chair Holly Yelton said.
The group of business and government leaders, hoping to build on successful plans elsewhere, heard reports of other cities’ plans, ranging from 12 to 150 pages, six to 18 months in preparation, and pegging the costs of homelessness at $30,000-$40,000 per homeless person.
A task force subcommittee will meet before a third general meeting April 7 to gather information on service agencies and the face of homelessness – based on January’s homeless count of 1,368, which included some 250 individual interviews.
The task force may find much of its work already done. A ten year plan to end homelessness through the federal Interagency Council on Homelessness was introduced to our area in 2003, and led to our Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition of St. Johns County and Continuum of Care, which surveys the homeless and tracks services.
What’s new is a budding awareness among our community leaders, and their anticipated support of the effort to end homelessness.