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Lee county working to improve homeless services

Posted at 9:18 PM, Sep 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-15 23:51:07-04

LEE COUNTY, FLA — You've seen their faces, and you've heard their stories, and this week we're talking about how Le county is planning to expand services to help them. People who are struggling with homelessness.

In August, the county was awarded almost $2 million dollars from the federal government, to help expand its rapid rehousing program, which is designed to quickly find people temporary housing.

"It's not just increasing the program capacity, but it's also decreasing the time taken for us to move homeless into stable housing," said Assistant Lee County manager, Marc Mora.

In this case, that grant money will specifically be used to provide housing to people who've lost theirs because of COVID-19.

"That is the goal is that they're homeless very briefly if at all," said Mora.

But the changes don't stop there, Tuesday, the county also discussed plans they have to better serve existing homeless populations.

The county is currently in negotiations with the salvation army to create a short term and long-term plan for homelessness and they're also looking to open up a day shelters to meet certain needs.

"They could be as basic as laundry, haircuts, feeding, but more importantly the mental health aspect of it, the behavioral health component," said Mora.

County commissioner Brian Hamman says a focus on those behavioral health needs is key to getting results in this area.

"That's exactly why we're not going into camps and throwing people into jail because then they don't really get the help that they need. And it presents a real financial burden to the community to then house them, take care of their medical needs and all that," he said.

The commission is also planning to hold a workshop with the Lee county sheriff's office and other relevant departments to make sure everyone's on the same page and to share ideas.

"If we can help people understand what's available to them and get them to take that help, then I think that's a fantastic win for the community," Hamman said.

That workshop is scheduled for October 20.