Throughout the year, Orange County has remained focused on serving our children and families in need.
On Veterans Day, Mayor Teresa Jacobs joined Florida Hospital at its announcement of the largest, one-time private donation to impact chronic homelessness in Central Florida history — a momentous commitment that will change the way this unique population is cared for and supported in years to come. Lars Houmann, CEO and president of Florida Hospital, announced that Florida Hospital would generously commit $6 million over three years to address homelessness in the region.
In follow up to the announcement, and as part of Orange County’s overall strategy to help those with housing needs, in December, Mayor Jacobs led a work session regarding Orange County’s plan to impact homelessness at a Board of County Commissioners meeting. Orange County Government currently allocates nearly $5 million annually of general revenue funds to impact homelessness and crisis needs, and receives additional federal and state dollars. At the work session, Mayor Jacobs proposed an additional $2 million in annual funding for homeless housing, prevention and related family programs.
In addition to a proposed expansion of funding, Mayor Jacobs announced plans for an integrated community focus on this critical issue. Working with the Central Florida Regional Commission for Homelessness (CFCH), Mayor Jacobs has asked Dick Batchelor to lead a new committee focused on children and families who are homeless. Batchelor is the founder and president of Dick Batchelor Management Group, Inc., a longtime Central Florida resident and a former member of the Florida Legislature who is known internationally for his commitment to human rights, and renowned here at home for his tireless advocacy on behalf of children, families, domestic violence victims, our schools and more.
In October, the CFCH co-chaired by Mayor Jacobs and Mayor Buddy Dyer, along with a delegation of 72 elected officials, business and community leaders from across the region went on a tour of Houston, Texas, to learn about the Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) system of care that has been developed in there to address chronic homelessness. City of Houston officials and New Hope Housing, an organization that offers permanent supportive housing for individuals who live alone and have low income, shared their region's long-term solutions with the Central Florida delegation. Houston has significantly reduced its homeless population and has established itself as a model community in providing life-stabilization options for the homeless and low-income families.
In November, Orange County and Goodwill Industries of Central Florida announced the launch of GoodSource Staffing Services — a temporary staffing and job-placement program that will assist individuals who are experiencing homelessness or are at risk of being homeless. They hope to place 250 individuals in jobs within year one.
Throughout Central Florida and the region, communities are focused on addressing the issues that result in homelessness, and working to impact the lives of at-risk children, families, veterans and the chronically homeless. Through Orange County’s collaboration, hard work and strategic focus on this complex issue, we are changing the face and future of Central Florida for those who are most in need.