Orlando-area officials announce milestone in homeless initiative

More than 100 formerly homeless people now in houses

ORLANDO, Fla. – Central Florida leaders announced on Thursday that more than 100 formerly homeless people have moved into homes, thanks to the region's Housing First initiative.

Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and other local leaders, as well as executives with the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness and Florida Hospital, gathered at Florida Hospital Orlando to share the result's of the area's pilot program.

The program is an initiative where emphasis is given on housing chronic homeless people first, while simultaneously offering them services to work toward self sufficiency. Housing First has completed its first year and the commission said the effort has had a clear impact.

City officials said 168 people have been housed since September 2015, 73 additional people are waiting to receive a home and more than $4 million has been spent on the Housing First program. Florida Hospital said that there has been a nearly 60 percent reduction in emergency room visits by the formerly homeless who are involved in the program.

“Our region’s efforts to house our homeless population is another example of the power of collaboration. Florida Hospital’s commitment to ending chronic homelessness was a catalyst for developing a coordinated, long-term solution to address one of our region’s most complex challenges,” Dyer said. “I am proud that as a result of this partnership, our community has surpassed our initial goal under the Housing First model.”  

The program still has some hurdles, leaders say they don't have enough landlords willing to offer housing to homeless individuals. There are also still more than 1,000 chronic homeless people waiting for housing in Central Florida

For more information on the Housing First initiative, visit rethinkhomelessness.org.

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