Friday, March 6, 2015

A Conversation with St. Pete City Council Member Amy Foster about the Homeless Part 4

The Homeless problem in Pinellas County continues to grow. If you would like to look at the Pinellas County Health and Community Services web site and look at the most recent surveys and reports.

numbers you can go the

The City of St. Petersburg has been at the forefront of the homeless crisis and City Council Member Amy Foster is taking a lead role in developing approaches and solutions for the homeless community.

My Conversation with Amy Foster concludes with this Post.

My questions are in BOLD

"Obviously have a new Police Chief who is facing a number of issues." "If you were putting these issues in a list where would you put the homeless issue," I asked?

"I think the homelessness issue has to be dealt with because, a) it's the right thing to do and b) because we are a tourist City." "People need to feel safe when they visit and people need to feel safe in order for us to do economic development." "While it isn't THE most pressing concern it has to be something on Chief Holloway’s radar on a regular basis."

"Is there a long term solution to this homelessness problem?"

"It's the one issue I think most citizens would kind of have a hard time feeling comfortable with."  "But when you research all of the data, and do the literature review, permanent supportive housing is the answer to chronic homelessness in particular."

"I did a quick check, again the numbers change from time to time, but 2012 Pundit Fact Check even did a fact check on this and found it was mostly true: it costs about $40,000 of tax payer's money for every year, for every person who is homeless on the street." "We are talking about costs for police officers, jails, health care costs such as needing to go to the emergency room, riding in ambulances, behavioral health issues and shelter to name a few."

"But when you provide supportive housing, it costs between $13,000 and $25,000 per year per person."

"The problem that you find is people say: "We want to help people who want to help themselves." "But the reality is study after study that has been done shows that substance abuse goes down, people
with mental health issues stay on their medications when supportive housing is available."

"If you think about Maslow's hierarchy of needs, shelter is a fundamental human issue." "And so once they have shelter they are able to actually see a path out of homelessness." "Supportive shelter is also able to provide wrap around homeless services."

'We had a couple of things happen in Tallahassee last year about wrap around support and  Challenge grants for cities and that has certainly helped. The goal this year is to continue that funding and to start a conversation about the need for additional mental health funding." "But in the end we are going to have to have some conversations about affordable housing and permanent supportive housing if we really want to eradicate homelessness."

You only have to watch Amy Foster for few minutes as you discuss homelessness to realize she is totally dedicated to the issue.

If you would like to be part of the solution to the homeless problem here in our County and in St. Petersburg, you can find Amy Fosters'' contact information at:

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