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Fort Myers city council, local advocate discuss real solutions to homelessness

Posted at 10:58 PM, Jul 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-21 22:58:35-04

FORT MYERS, FLA — Fort Myers councilwoman Terolyn Watson says it's time get folks off the streets.

"I see young people, middle people and older people that are all homeless. They are a part of our community and this is something we need to attend to right now," she said.

That big issue and a specific name that could help fix it, was brought up at Monday night's city council meeting.

"I think we need to get in touch with Ramona Miller, because she's very active with the homeless people. That's the person we need to get in touch with," said Watson on Monday.

Today we tracked down Miller, a local homeless and anti-human trafficking advocate, to talk about ways we can end or at least reduce homelessness in Southwest Florida.

The first thing we need to do is bring all parties to the table," said Miller.

Right now, the county takes on the lion share of responsibility in this area and the money. Records show it was awarded almost $7 million dollars last year to fight homelessness.

But Miller says they'll need to build a partnership with local cities, organizations and people, to help better distribute those dollars.

"People are homeless for all types of reasons," she said.

She adds that the next point of action for everyone involved in this fight is building better relationships with those who struggle with homelessness. To understand who they are and why they're out there.

"Are we dealing with those who are voluntary? Or those who are involuntary? Are we dealing with those who suffer from mental health issues? Undiagnosed or untreated?" said Miller.

And she says that tackling this issue will in turn help cut down on things like human trafficking and opioid addiction in our area.

"Once we get a grip on homelessness we'll be able to eliminate, eradicate and end a lot of the other problems," Miller added.

And after last night's discussion, councilwoman Watson says these are the next steps she wants the city and county to take.

"The first thing we need to do is find a location space. The second thing we need to do is the funds. The funds are there, they're out there and we need to come together and solve this issue, it's a big issue," Watson said.