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Local council focusing on shorter-term solutions to homelessness

Posted at 11:15 PM, Jan 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-19 23:15:15-05

FORT MYERS, FLA — Permanent solutions to a complex problem. That's what was on the agenda Tuesday night At the Fort Myers city council meeting.

"I think a lot of times it can be easy to judge "Well why are they homeless?" before we decide we're going to help them," said councilwoman Darla Bonk.

Bonk raised the issue after hearing about it at several recent meetings.

"It's a situation that's not going away and we can't pretend that it doesn't exist," she said.

A big question tonight was about short-term solutions and what can be done for homelessness right now.

I think the faith-based organizations in lee county and the city can be doing more than we've been doing. But I think we need some guidance from the city as to what those things are," said Bonk.

Installing portable showers is now being considered by the council and it's an idea one man at Tuesday's meeting knows a thing or two about.

The 2008 recession hit Drew Broderick hard and forced him to sleep in tents, trucks, and campers all over Southwest Florida, even while holding a job.

"I lost everything and I had to start all over," said Broderick, "They think homeless people are like on drugs and alcoholics and that but a lot of homeless people are just people like you and me and I had a job the whole time."

In 2015 he created "Showers for the homeless," using his own truck and tools to provide showers to other homeless folks in the area.

He says while affordable housing will be a major key to ending the problem in Fort Myers, something as basic as a shower is a great first start.

"It helps people to be able to clean up and get a job because you know nobody is going to work with you and give you a job if you can't come to work presentable," said Broderick.

Tuesday, Mayor Kevin Anderson also announced that the members of a homelessness task force that he's putting together would be announced next week. However, he did confirm that councilman Johnny Streets Jr. would be a member.