City and county leaders in Pensacola learn more about the federal strategic plan to end homelessness

Published: May. 9, 2023 at 4:48 PM CDT
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PENSACOLA, Fla. (WALA) - All In is the federal government’s strategic plan to end homelessness. Dr. Joe Savage with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness says the plan featured input from thousands of providers, elected officials and even people who have experienced homelessness.

They found that some of the biggest challenges to reducing homelessness are lack of housing supply and unsheltered homelessness. John Johnson with Opening Doors Northwest Florida say the same is true in Pensacola. Johnson says the homeless population is currently around 1,200 people and around 800 of them are unsheltered.

“The high cost of rental rates. The visibility of homelessness in our area is very very apparent. A significant amount of that has to do with affordable housing,” said Johnson.

“For people to be able to afford to live here like our workforce as well as making sure they aren’t going to transition into being homeless because of the cost of living,” said Mayor D.C. Reeves. “Housing’s going to be paramount for us.”

Savage says one of the best ways to reduce homelessness could be to target certain populations. He says they’ve already seen it work by reducing the number of homeless veterans by 55% since 2010.

“It’s because the resources were put on the table and when the resources were there, communities were able to target towards that population specifically,” said Dr. Joe Savage.

Johnson says that would be a good approach after seeing an increase in those who are chronically homeless and deal with mental illness and substance abuse.

“Our response needs to be to address and support substance abuse treatment plans and programs and look at transitional housing,” added Johnson.

The biggest takeaway of all. Coming together with the city the county and community partners to develop a unified approach to reduce homelessness.

“That regional planning piece for us to have some alignment here. As he said when other communities have had that alignment they’ve had success,” said Reeves.

Savage did stress to city and county leaders that the priorities that were emphasized in this plan are going to be major factors when it comes to applying for federal funding so the more a community’s priorities line up with this plan the more funding they could receive.