Lee County approves $2 million plan for homeless

Posted at 6:20 PM, Mar 16, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-17 01:08:33-04

LEE COUNTY, Fla. — Lee County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to spend nearly $2 million to quickly house families living on the street.

After the meeting, Commissioner Brian Hamman said the county has found a longer lasting solution for some families.

“We’ve reached out to landlords, and now we’ve identified more available units to help people go into. The county is willing to pick up rent for the first twelve months, and some utilities,” he said.

The $1.9 million plan commissioners approved will help 69 families who need housing because they’re either sleeping outside, in cars, or in shelters. Hamman said those families include 147 children.

“Kids really need certainty. They need to know where they’re going to stay every night. I think it’ll help them get back into schools,” he said. “It’ll help them get some certainty in their life. And hopefully, this will break the cycle of what they’re going through.”

He said this short-term plan could turn into a long-term solution.

“This gives us an opportunity to actually assign a case manager to them to get somebody working with them to try and help answer the questions about job training, and all the other problems,” he said.

Here’s a breakdown of the funding; $13,000 will be allotted to house the 69 families for one year - totaling $900,000. $300,000 for staffing costs, $500,000 for operational costs, $25,000 for security and $140,000 to provide each family with their basic needs.

Commissioners didn’t vote on this part, but the County’s Human and Veteran Services Department (HVS) recommended what they call a proven plan. Single-room occupancy housing or SRO - similar to a tiny home. Families would be placed in one-room transitional units with the help of about $800,000 in funding from HVS and donated property from the county. Each unit would fit up to 4 people and would only cost about $300 a month.

HVS says their re-housing program has turned into sustainable housing for more and more people over the last few years. They said just last year, 95 percent of the people in that program kept their housing.