"If you're among the tens of thousands of Central Florida workers planning to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit this year, there's good news: It will be both easier to qualify and more generous in how much money you get back. The EITC, a federal initiative to encourage Americans to work, is also expected to top last year's collective return of well over a half-billion dollars to residents in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties alone — a sum likely to have a positive ripple effect on the local economy."
"A new admission policy at the Museum of Science & Industry fits in perfectly with its core ideology — to make science real for people of all ages and backgrounds. In a program titled Museums for All, MOSI is the first museum in the state to offer residents who display an Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card and photo ID access to all MOSI’s exhibit galleries for a $3 admission fee."
“A federal judge on Tuesday struck down a Florida law requiring applicants for welfare benefits to undergo mandatory drug testing, ruling it was unconstitutional and shouldn't be enforced.”
"Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, left open the possibility Wednesday that his chamber will consider an expansion of health coverage for low-income Floridians. Gardiner described as 'intriguing' a proposal that would accept billions of dollars available under the federal Affordable Care Act and provide coverage through private insurers."
"A long-running complaint that requirements for Florida's Bright Futures scholarships discriminated against minority high school graduates was closed by the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights last week, which says it found "no evidence of intentional discrimination." What it did find — "statistically significant disparities, by race, even among otherwise qualified applicants" — should still get lawmakers' attention in a state with a rapidly expanding Hispanic population and where African-American students have been less likely in recent years to enroll in state universities."
"It’s one of the great ironies of the health overhaul. Floridians most in need of health insurance -- adults below the poverty line -- are often blocked from coverage the Affordable Care Act provides."
"When college students come from a lower-income background, the deck is often stacked against them in graduating to the corporate world. Many simply don’t understand the culture, let alone what to wear in job interviews or in the workplace. A nonprofit program is teaming up with Florida State College at Jacksonville to help create a pipeline for some of those students to corporate America. Year Up, based in Boston and operating in about a dozen cities, will begin the program Jan. 8 with an office at FSCJ’s downtown campus. But efforts are well underway to recruit more businesses to participate in the program."
"Thanks to a digital library program being rolled out in local schools, similar electronic books will soon be a click away for tens of thousands of students. Within the next few weeks, the program will be available at about 30 low-income elementary schools and four specialty programs in Brevard."
"Hungry for change, about 100 protested Saturday in front of the downtown federal courthouse against city leaders and their ordinance to restrict outdoor feedings for the homeless."
"Once again the police issued him a notice to appear in court for the criminal violation of an ordinance — the third one in nearly two weeks — and then allowed Mr. Abbott, who has worked to help the homeless for decades, to resume serving food to those waiting in line. And once again Mr. Abbott, who has become a cause célèbre, vowed to continue to feed the homeless 'as long as there is breath in my body' — be it at the beach or in a park. To press his case, Mr. Abbott also said he took the city to court on Wednesday, a tactic he used successfully nearly 15 years ago to beat back a similar local ordinance."
"St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, with four City Council members standing with him, announced two modest initiatives Tuesday that could have a huge impact on the pocketbooks and livelihoods of some of the city's lowest-income residents. The city's lowest-paid workers can now make a bit more, and felons will no longer have to immediately identify themselves as such when applying for a city government job. That increases the odds that job applicants will be judged based on their talents, not just their pasts. This is how a city grows best, with opportunity for all."
"It costs a family of five about $1,500 for a four-day pass to the theme parks at Disney World near Orlando, Florida. It takes Weston Vlier, who drives a bus there, four weeks to earn that much. 'If nobody is able to help us out with food, we just don’t eat,' said the 42-year-old father of three who makes less than $25,000 per year. 'I can’t even pay my rent this week.' Vlier belongs to a growing class of working poor in Orlando, which has the lowest median pay among the 50 most-populous American metropolitan areas, according to U.S. Labor Department data. Three of the city’s largest employers, including Walt Disney Co. (DIS), increased starting pay this year. Even after Disney raised its minimum wage to $10 per hour, Vlier still lives below the federal poverty line."
“I think a good number of those using food stamps that day would have had enough money to buy food if they had changed their priorities to make taking care of family their top priority.”
“After working with the city of Sarasota for nearly a year on creating a shelter for homeless adults, Sarasota County has been left to consider if it will continue the effort following the end of that partnership.”
“A final collapse of support for a proposed homeless shelter in Sarasota appeared imminent on the City Commission Monday, when two former supporters of the idea said the city should give up on it, at least for now.”
“Of all the numbers in Pasco County's proposed budget for the coming fiscal year, one under-the-radar sum is significant for its attempt to get disenfranchised people off the street and back to work. Pinellas-Pasco Public Defender Bob Dillinger wants $125,000 from the county to try to keep drunken homeless people out of jail.”
“With 47 employees and thousands of volunteers helping during the year, HEP provides temporary housing for singles, families and veterans through an annual budget of $6.5 million.”
“Over the past few months, however, the Pinellas County Commission started to have doubts about building a $5 million medical clinic for the poor near the Pinellas County Jail and Safe Harbor homeless shelter in Largo. On Wednesday, commissioners decided to change course.”
“We applaud lawmakers and Scott for prioritizing child welfare and approving a budget that allocates an additional $38.8 million to protect and help Florida’s at-risk children.”
“The county is moving them out because of a dispute with the property owner. He wants to build a hotel on the site adjacent to I-10; the county won't allow a hotel because the property is in a lake protection zone. The owner says if he can't build a hotel, he's perfectly fine letting the homeless camp there. The county says that there are plenty of other commercial businesses he could build and that neighbors have complained about the homeless camp.”
“These days Johnson, co-founder of an educational-software company, is the main advocate for Rethink Homelessness — a Central Florida campaign to sway long-held public opinions on who the homeless are and how they got there.”
“Weathered make-shift tents still stand under a canopy of towering trees near North Monroe Street's I-10 interchange where dozens of homeless men and women have lived for decades. They won't be for much longer.”
“The White House has new ammunition for those fighting for Medicaid expansion: It would create jobs.”
“Each new story of homelessness in Pinellas County makes it clearer that a complex problem that worsened in the recession has not dissipated and requires more resources and creativity to address. Collaboration by law enforcement, social service agencies and Pinellas' 25 local governments is essential to finding, funding and implementing solutions to this vexing countywide problem. And a good place to start is by better supporting programs that have proven successes.”
“Jenece Fields is planting herbs in a vegetable garden at Palm Beach County's first homeless resource center. She's almost 75 days into a 90-day program to help the county's homeless find employment and housing, but she's still hopeful she'll find work.”
“Over the past several months, our Legislature has focused significant attention on child welfare reform and, just recently, Gov. Rick Scott signed into law SB 1666, a critical starting point as we work toward improving this vital system of care.”
“The federal government is seeking to take back $267 million from Florida hospitals in funds it says it overpaid for care for low-income patients.”
“Many impoverished Central Florida kids eat their most nutritious school meals at no charge, but qualifying for the free and reduced-price meals can sometimes be a headache for families and schools.”
“Sarasota County and the city of Sarasota are not even close to creating a recommended shelter for chronically homeless adults.”
“Although the Florida Legislature did not raise the state-mandated minimum wage during its last session, some minimum wage workers — like the Ikea cashiers who ring up your Swedish biscuits, the salespeople at Gap who help you find your T-shirt size, and the tellers at C1 Bank who deposit your checks — will see their pay increase.”
“The federal government wants to recover $267 million from Florida hospitals it says were paid too much to care for the poor. And it wants the entire amount this year - a demand that is hitting safety-net hospitals like Jackson Memorial in Miami and Tampa General hard.”
“After the fireworks show at Lake Eola this Fourth of July, middle-school teacher Thomas Rebman plans to kiss his wife, hug his stepson and venture off into a 30-day odyssey of homelessness with nothing more than an ID card, his iPhone and a charger. No money. No food. Not even a toothbrush.”
“Beginning Tuesday, more than a half million South Floridians, mostly children and women, will begin receiving their government-subsidized healthcare through private insurers, part of an effort to move about 3.6 million Floridians on Medicaid to a managed care model that lawmakers believe will cut costs.”
“With city finances buoyed by rising property taxes, Mayor Rick Kriseman plans to plow more funds into economic development and to tackle the city’s homeless problem. The city will give the Pinellas Hope homeless shelter an extra $50,000 in 2015, and also award $75,000 to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul homeless shelter at 384 15th St. No. The move comes after the city was criticized by a former homelessness consultant in a recent report warning that the number of panhandlers and homeless on the streets is rising and could accelerate further if the city doesn’t take action.”
“Miami County’s homeless student population has skyrocketed since 2010, but Maconaquah Elementary School Principal Kelly McPike believes the problem may be even bigger than it appears.”
“In the past two years, our community has shifted the ways we address homelessness. As a result, the number of people who are homeless has decreased, hundreds of homeless veterans have moved into their own apartments, dozens of medically vulnerable or chronically homeless people have moved into their own places and the length of time people are homeless is decreasing.”
“Thirteen seats are open to serve on the Big Bend Continuum of Care Board, a group seeking to create strategic plans for reducing regional homelessness.”
“A deal struck by House and Senate negotiators would hike the state's current $8-per-hour minimum wage to $11 per hour by 2017, but would not tie future increases to inflation.”
“A consultant's report last week on an uptick in the number of homeless adults in downtown St. Petersburg and his call for more funding for the county's largest homeless shelter is a timely reminder that there remains a need for coordinated commitment across Pinellas County when it comes to battling homelessness.”
“Increasing the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, as has been proposed by President Barack Obama, would help 22.4 percent of Florida workers, according to a study by Oxfam America.”
“Taylor said he heard that the state is planning on starting an new veterans outreach that would duplicate what NVHS is already doing. He has written to the governor to express his opposition and concern. Taylor said NVHS’ efforts were helping50 percent of homeless veterans in the state through Stand Downs in 13 cities in 10 counties, which was paid for in part with the state funds.”
“An ambitious effort aimed at addressing generational poverty in two south St. Petersburg neighborhoods suffered a setback last week when Gov. Rick Scott vetoed $1.6 million that legislators had dedicated to the program. But the goals of the 2020 Plan to reduce poverty in Midtown and Childs Park by 30 percent by 2020 are bigger than any one state budget. The group's focus now should be on refining its message and identifying specific investments needed to reach its goal.”
“A few years ago, homeless people camped out in front of City Hall and panhandlers accosted downtown business patrons. That doesn't happen as much these days. But the situation could worsen again if the city doesn't step up its efforts, warned Robert Marbut, the city's former consultant on homelessness issues.”
“The hope is that with books of their own to take home, Osceola students — more than 70 percent of whom live in low-income families — will have no barriers to reading once school is out.”
“It comes in the wake of embarrassing revelations last year about the county's Homeless Recovery program, which for years funneled millions of public dollars to slum owners while placing families in unsafe living conditions.”
“The affordable-housing development joins several low-income options on the north side of downtown surrounding the Marion Transit Center. Within a few blocks of Madison Heights are Metro 510, which offers housing for low-income workers, and the Vista 400 apartments for senior citizens.”
“Thursday's front-page article in the Orlando Sentinel said it all: ‘Study: Housing for homeless can save taxpayers millions.’ The experts have spoken, the leaders of nonprofits agree, the taxpayers save millions, and the homeless get solutions.”
“As I was speaking with each of them, I couldn't help but think about how we are responding as a community to this issue. My mind quickly went to the recent controversy in Osceola County where 10 homeless individuals were arrested after deputy sheriffs said they stole $350 planted in a decoy purse on U.S. Highway 192, a tourist strip that's also a last-chance haven for poor people living in motels or homeless camps.”
“Several homeless people said that hustle, which costs the county thousands of dollars, is becoming less common as Sarasota County Area Transit and agencies across the county are restricting distribution of the deeply discounted Liberty Passes.”
“Though the controversial shift has been debated in Tallahassee for years, many of the poor and disabled Floridians on the federal-state insurance program are only now starting to understand how the mandate affects them, including the possible loss of their doctors.”
“Don't be fooled by Florida Republican legislators who defend their refusal to accept Medicaid expansion money as a responsible conservative position and criticize the Obama administration for being inflexible. Another conservative Republican governor, Mike Pence of Indiana, proposed last week that his state use the federal money to help provide insurance for low-income Hoosiers. It's not conservative values or rigid Washington depriving poor Floridians of health coverage; it's political stubbornness and insensitivity in Tallahassee.”
“Living on the streets isn't cheap: Each chronically homeless person in Central Florida costs the community roughly $31,000 a year, a new analysis being released today shows.”
“If you're keeping track, that means nearly a dozen Republican governors have now embraced Medicaid expansion, or some variation of it, in the past couple of years. And these are not left-leaning governors. They include some of the president's loudest critics, and some of the GOP's biggest names. Which brings us to Florida. And nearly 800,000 uninsured residents. And a governor playing hide-and-sneak.”
“It may not be a war, but it's becoming a more heated battle every day. South Florida cities versus South Florida homeless. Already, legal teams are involved and lawsuits are being discussed. Both sides are staking out their turf.”
“When it comes to hiking the minimum wage, some states aren't waiting for the federal government to act. Three states recently agreed to increase their mandated hourly wage to $10.10 per hour. A proposal to do the same for virtually all workers in Florida went nowhere this legislative session, however.”
“The Legislature this year dedicated a greater share of affordable housing money from the Sadowski Housing Trust than it had in recent years, according to home builders.”
“Of course, all Floridians have a stake in the health-coverage debate. Accepting federal funds would bring health coverage to at least 800,000 low-income Floridians. This could save the lives of hundreds of Florida residents.”
“A bill to reform the state’s child welfare laws to protect children from abuse and neglect will come up for debate in the House Wednesday, but an amendment drafted by Department and Children and Families and endorsed by the local children’s services agencies may be dead for the session.”
“Florida's Republican leaders have made it abundantly clear that they don't like the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. With Attorney General Pam Bondi taking the lead, Florida was one of 26 states claiming that the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional. They lost in the U.S. Supreme Court.”
“The Johnsons are among a growing number of families living in hotels in this Florida tourist corridor because they can't afford anything else and because their county has no shelters for the estimated 1,216 homeless households with children.”
“In the next year, the state should have time to complete privatizing the Medicaid system, which proponents hope will save money. The federal government also gave Florida a March 2015 deadline to complete a study on how it pays for Medicaid and better ensure that money gets to where it is most needed.”
“Organizers of the 2020 Plan have an ambitious goal: reduce poverty by 30 percent in the city's poorest neighborhoods by the end of this decade.”
“Millions of working families have successfully taken advantage of the lower insurance premiums though the Affordable Care Act. How can we deny this same advantage to working families making between $1,869 and $23,550 because of the shortsightedness and stubbornness of the Florida legislators?”
“As residential development takes off again in Broward County, a set of new rules up for a vote Tuesday would help ensure that at least some of those new homes and apartments are within reach of low-income families.”
“Disney presented the proposal yesterday to the Service Trades Council, a consortium of six labor groups, the company and union representatives said. They are scheduled to resume bargaining over a contract on May 28.”
“Florida Senate and House conferees will begin budget negotiations in earnest next week. Surprisingly, among the things to be reconciled is a huge gap in the amount of the documentary stamp tax each chamber has earmarked for affordable housing.”
“They held protests and press conferences. Several even spent the week living on $7.93 an hour. But try as they might, Democratic lawmakers could not spark a discussion about increasing the state minimum wage.”
“Nearly 3,400 of the more than 101,000 prekindergarten through 12th grade students in the Pinellas public school system are known to be homeless, according to the school districts. There are undoubtedly others, but the stigma associated with homelessness, especially in affluent areas such as Palm Harbor, often keeps kids that need help from coming forward.”
“Enrollment in Medicaid rose by about 245,000 people in Florida from October through February, reflecting a national trend as people who were previously eligible but not enrolled signed up for the state-federal health program for low-income Americans, federal officials reported Friday.”
“Every day in Hillsborough County thousands of men, women and children go without a home. After sunset, some take shelter in cars or under overpasses. Others sleep in parking lots or on sidewalks.”
“Sen. Bill Nelson is shopping what he says is way for Medicaid expansion to happen in Florida and avoid concerns that the state would pick up the cost when federal funding is reduced.”
“When the docket was created last year, Mayor Bob Buckhorn touted it as a way to bring the city’s worst landlords to heel. Few landlords have been brought to court, though. Instead, each month’s court calendar is packed with dozens of homeless people ticketed for breaking city rules against panhandling, public drinking, camping in city parks and the like.”
“Attorney Jack Scarola lives in a large house in Jupiter and has a big family (five children and 15 grandchildren). When he isn’t working, he enjoys photography, golfing, boating and spending time with family. But he knows that many folks are not so fortunate. He knows that, on any given night, 3,200 Palm Beach County men, women and children are homeless.”
“A proposal to extend health care coverage to low-income residents was hailed by supporters Tuesday as a smart investment in Nebraska's economy and residents, but it was panned by opponents as a long-term financial burden.”
“In Florida’s complex child welfare system, the state-run Department of Children and Families oversees reports and investigations of child abuse. But ongoing service delivery and post-investigation care of children and families lies within each community, as community-based-care agencies and local service providers work in tandem to do all they can to protect children, to strengthen and stabilize families.”
“Sarasota County, an area known for luxury homes, waterfront restaurants and other symbols of affluence, has another side: Nearly one in four children here is unsure about the source and quality of his or her next meal.”
“Homelessness is not a crime. City officials favored that point of view Monday when they directed police to hold off on ordering homeless people to leave a campsite.”
“Wes Singletary, Executive Director for Big Bend Habitat for Humanity, went to Washington, D.C., Feb. 11-13 to join more than 200 Habitat for Humanity leaders and supporters for the eighth annual Habitat on the Hill legislative conference and day of action to urge lawmakers to back policies and programs that help Habitat address the issue of substandard and poverty housing.”
“After a year of damaging news reports about child deaths from abuse and neglect, a Florida Senate committee on Tuesday passed a package of proposals intended improve the quality and quantity of regulation over the state’s child welfare system.”
“Named for a former school board member who died in 2011, the center will provide day care and educational programs to children between the ages of 1 and 5 living in poverty.”
“A Senate panel on Tuesday unanimously approved three measures that would make wide-ranging changes to Florida's child-welfare system after a series of highly publicized deaths last year that involved child abuse and neglect.”
“People who have the toughest time landing a job — felons, homeless, high school dropouts, welfare and food stamp recipients, military veterans and the poor — would get a hiring boost under a proposed law working its way to passage at the Broward County Commission.”
“It’s become a potentially major political issue this year: President Obama’s push for a hike in the federal minimum wage, a proposal that has draw out plenty of national supporters and detractors.”
“One of Medicaid expansion's biggest allies in the Florida Legislature is growing cold on the idea, which leaves the possibility of extending insurance to more than 1 million of the state's most vulnerable nearly dead in the water before the session begins.”
“The Pensacola City Council on Thursday gave final approval to repealing the city’s blanket ban, which critics say unfairly targeted the homeless. However, councilors delayed for eight months a related ordinance that would have eliminated restrictions on the use of public restrooms.”
“Two local lawmakers are taking a practical approach to dealing with the state’s homeless population. State Sen. Jack Latvala and State Rep. Kathleen Peters have introduced bills in advance of this year’s legislative session, which begins next week, that aim to get homeless people off the streets and back into mainstream society.”
“Homeless advocates are readying a plan to address homelessness, a thing we have not done well so far. The plan will emphasize housing, cooperation among agencies, help from private business and calculable results.”
“Whatever the reason, some 300 volunteers had a tough time Thursday as they fanned out in an attempt to tally every homeless person in Hillsborough County.”
“We’re encouraged to see an influential state senator suggest a portion of this year’s budget surplus be used to help the homeless in Florida. While it’s usually fashionable to give some of the money back to taxpayers – in an election year that means voters – Sen. Jack Latvala’s plan seems to be a better use for that money.”
“Senate President Don Gaetz on Friday called for greater accountability for the state's privatized child-welfare system, despite arguments by local community-based care agencies that Florida is one of the best states in the country for the treatment of abused and neglected children.”
“Roughly 1 million uninsured Floridians who repeatedly heard affordable health insurance was just around the corner for them thanks to President Barack Obama's new law are finding a harsh reality — they're too poor to qualify.”
“The most progressive and radical approach to serving Tallahassee’s homeless took shape Wednesday with a groundbreaking, but really the seed was planted in Rick Kearney’s mind in the mid-1980s.”
“City Council here took a first step toward abolishing a law that makes it a crime for a homeless person to sleep with a blanket on city property.”
“As millions of Americans gain health coverage through the Affordable Care Act’s Medicaid expansion, experts say their higher rates of mental health and substance abuse disorders will be difficult to treat due to a lack of counselors and behavioral therapists who accept Medicaid patients.”
“The Palm Beach County School District identified more than 3,000 homeless students last school year, with some families living in cars, under bridges and on local campgrounds, Judith McInnes, the district’s homeless education case manager told the village’s Education Advisory Board this week.”
“Florida Democrats are tripping over themselves to make the minimum wage an election year issue, and, really, who can blame them?”
“Individuals with disabilities are able to live independently in fully accessible homes. Families moved from rental to home ownership. Extremely low-income renters were lifted out of substandard and unsafe housing conditions into redeveloped and energy-efficient apartments.”
“Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward has reversed positions on a city ordinance that makes it a crime for the homeless to sleep on public property with a blanket.”
“The 2020 plan to tackle poverty in south St. Petersburg calls for $170 million in public and private investment over the next five years.”
“Preliminary numbers released today by the Big Bend Homeless Coalition show fewer people are homeless in Tallahassee this year compared to 2013.”
“Commissioners have new plans to deal with the homeless who have made the city their home, trying to stop them from bothering residents and motorists and making visitors uncomfortable.”
“Shannon was just one of the hundreds of homeless individuals interviewed Tuesday by the 77 volunteers who combed the streets, shelters, libraries and the waters of the Florida Keys to conduct the census run by the Monroe County Continuum of Care agency.”
“The Highlands County Coalition for the Homeless is looking for eligible renters who are on the verge of being homeless and need help staying in their homes or those without a roof over their heads.”
“That’s where volunteers attempting the first systematic tally of homeless youths in Miami-Dade County spotted the couple Thursday night.”
“Hillsborough County handed off its responsibilities for housing the homeless to nonprofit organizations but is still working on a big-picture solution to the decades-old problem.”
“Homelessness rose dramatically in Thurston County when the recession hit, but local volunteers and agencies remain optimistic that the numbers will go down.”
“In the shadow of Walt Disney World, Osceola County has one of the highest rates of homeless families in the nation, and the problem continues to grow at an ‘astonishing’ rate, officials told more than 300 community leaders Wednesday.”
“The decision by state lawmakers not to expand Medicaid could cost Florida businesses as much as $253 million a year in tax penalties, according to a new report released Wednesday.”
“Lewis counts himself lucky to have a $9-an-hour full-time job after being out of work for almost a year and losing nearly everything: his apartment, his car and most of his possessions. He slept on the streets some nights, so a long commute to work by bus and on foot is no obstacle.”
“A lot has changed this past year on the homeless landscape, including a revamping — and renaming — of the umbrella organization that collects and distributes funding to reduce the number of people living on the streets in Hillsborough County.”
“In the growing debate on income inequality, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio is presenting himself as the Republican from working-class roots who can help you rise up, as he did, to achieve the American Dream.”
“You’ve heard of the saying ‘the elephant in the room’ — a problem, issue or topic that no one wants to address. Well, the elephant in the backyard of Hillsborough County is homelessness.”
“Our community is abuzz with conversation about the impact permanent supportive housing can have on the chronically homeless population in Central Florida. The topic came to the forefront after the annual homeless census, which ranked Orlando first in the number of chronically homeless people in midsized cities, was presented to Congress.”
“Sen. Marco Rubio says the nation needs a new reform agenda to help the poorest Americans find work and boost their families out of poverty, a goal that he says has been undermined by Washington's bureaucracy.”
“Low wages that do not allow workers to earn enough to pay rent at the end of the month and to put enough food on the table for their kids leads to what the Pope has also called ‘an economy of exclusion,’ stunting the lives of the poor for lack of opportunity.”
“When it comes to homeless people, this city has been known to hide its welcome mat.”
“The homeless started lining up single file shortly before 10 a.m. in a vacant lot on Anderson Street off South Parramore, a low-income area of Orlando.”
“Louis McGee used to be one of the homeless served at Trinity Cafe on Christmas morning. Now with his life turned around, he volunteers his time as a server.”
“King is the founder of Sean's Outpost, a Pensacola homeless outreach center named after King's friend, Sean Dugas, a former Pensacola News Journal reporter who was a homicide victim in 2012. Remarkably, Sean's Outpost has consistently hand-delivered meals to the homeless since March with barely more than a $1,000 in cash donations.”
“America's widening income inequality is largely due to industries such as banking that bring in billions of dollars in profits but pay low wages to rank-and-file employees.”
“Their mission: to make sure kids whose parents are poor, homeless, sick, battered, imprisoned or just struggling with life will have a spark of joy on a day when much of the world is celebrating. Maybe they'll be treated to toys or a good meal or the only new clothing they'll get all year.”
“It's tough enough to break the cycle of homelessness without government making it worse. But that has been the case in Hillsborough County, which has forced some homeless families to pay back their public housing aid and left them without the money to move into stable housing.”
“Medically disabled and living below the poverty line, Frison often goes to bed hungry. Even more often since she lost her food stamp benefits four months ago. She said she only got the $16-a-month minimum, but at least the food stamps were enough to buy chicken neck bones. With beans, rice and noodles, she could make the meals last.”
“Sunday, Horacek and about 200 area homeless gathered to remember 49 of their fellows who died in Pinellas County this year. Since 1990, the nation observes National Homeless Persons' Memorial Day on or around Dec. 21, which coincides with the winter solstice, the longest night and darkest day of the year.”
“Driven into homelessness when Cruz lost his job, the child, his parents and his five brothers and sisters turned to Hillsborough County for help. The county's Homeless Recovery program placed them in a cramped, bug-infested trailer that leaked when it rained.”
“Each year, on or near the first day of winter, people gather at two locations in Brevard County to remember the homeless residents of the county who died in the previous year. This week, a roster containing 82 names is being read during the ceremonies, up from 57 last year, and up from what typically has been less than 20 in previous years.”
“It's that sliver of the region's homeless population that's lifted Metro Orlando in a new annual federal report from No. 5 last year to No. 1 among America's midsized cities in its ranks of chronically homeless.”
“The trouble with feeding the homeless over the holidays is that the holidays don’t last forever. There is always tomorrow.”
“From transitional housing to free healthcare, there are countless resources available for poor families in Pinellas County. However, those resources don’t serve their purpose when the community and those who represent its interests aren’t educated about them.”
“Gov. Rick Scott believes in personal responsibility and wants Floridians to get a job. And that applies to folks on welfare, too.”
“The holiday season is upon us. Sadly, the big retailers are Scrooges when it comes to paying their staffs. Undergirding the sale prices is an army of workers earning the minimum wage or a fraction above it, living check to check on their meager pay and benefits. The dark secret that the retail giants like Walmart don’t want you to know is that many of these workers subsist below the poverty line, and rely on programs like food stamps and Medicaid just to get by. This holiday season, though, low-wage workers from Walmart to fast-food restaurants are standing up and fighting back.”
“Now that President Obama has outlined the crisis in economic mobility, he should begin by pressing his demand that Congress raise the minimum wage — and not by a little, but a lot.”
“When homelessness expert Robert Marbut examined Sarasota County, he discovered a study in contrasts. North County, especially the city of Sarasota, sees the bulk of homeless individuals — about 85 percent of them.”
“Homeless people in Lake County may soon have a safe place to drop in for a hot shower, to wash their clothes or connect with services, thanks to efforts of two organizations striving to help the homeless.”
“People comment on the swell of support and theorize when and where it started, but there is no mistaking that residents and leaders throughout the community appear prepared to tackle homelessness in a new way.”
“For most people, the complexity of homelessness is reduced to the image of a middle-aged person, face weathered by a life outdoors, begging on the street. As the executive director of Covenant House Florida, this is not the face of homelessness I see every day.”
“Poverty is expensive, and according to the last U.S. Census, more than 16 percent of Jacksonville’s population is living below the poverty line. Tuesday, the JaxChamber and Family Foundations — along with other partnering nonprofits — announced a solution and urged the business community to get involved.”
“Currently in draft form, the bill would create a public records exemption ‘for individual identifying information of a person who is homeless or at risk of homelessness.’ The bill's supporters said it is meant to protect people's names, dates of birth and other information that might be used to single out a person. Data on the homeless population could still be released in aggregate, they said.”
“This past spring, Florida legislators declined to expand Medicaid as part of the national rollout of the Affordable Care Act, despite the federal government's offer to pay $51 billion to cover the program for 10 years. At a Tampa town hall meeting on Wednesday, a Democratic legislator and other Medicaid-expansion supporters challenged a Republican House leader to re-address the problem still facing more than 1 million poor, uninsured Floridians.”
“Floridians like to boast about being home to some of the country's most famous sports teams and their multimillion-dollar stars. But when it comes to seizing the opportunity to provide tens of thousands of jobs and provide health care for its low-income workers, the Sunshine State is about to drop the $51 billion ball.”
“Miami businessman Brian Alonso is among those calling for dramatic changes in the way the city deals with homeless people. Alonso and his family run La Epoca, a boutique clothing store, at 200 E. Flagler Street. He has also been involved with Miami’s Homeless Trust. They have seen the impact of homelessness on the downtown business community for decades.”
“Almost 450 students in St. Johns County schools are classified as homeless and by the end of the year that number is expected to pass last year’s total of 684.”
“The Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust reports that the number of people on the streets has declined from 2,490 in October 1998 to 848 in August 2013. This success, often hailed by Urban Institute homelessness expert Martha Burt, has come through a private-public sector collaboration emerging from the Pottinger decision that invests in a housing-first approach.”
“Almost 60 percent of Lealman residents admitted to emergency rooms live below the federal poverty level and need help paying their medical bills.”
“This summer, police compiled a list of 22 names it determined were the city’s most recalcitrant homeless people — including Michael Smigelski, a transient who this year alone had been arrested 20 times, mostly on charges of public drinking.”
“The Gulf Coast Community Foundation this week approved more than $4 million in grants — two of which will go to area organizations working to reduce homelessness in South Sarasota County and help local families in danger of becoming homeless.”
“The total included $493,000 in ‘leveraged grants’ awarded through Gulf Coast's competitive grant-making program and more $3.4 million in grants recommended by donors who have established charitable funds at the foundation. Two of the leveraged grants aim to provide care to the homeless and strengthen homelessness prevention.”
"Hillsborough County's system for serving the homeless has failed the needy and taxpayers alike, so it makes sense to consider whether private nonprofits could do a better job. But finding a better way forward cannot be a ruse by the county to wash its hands of the problem. The county alone is legally responsible for serving this population. And any solution must include more than temporary housing if the county hopes to break the cycle of homelessness."
“After the hour-long hearing, Moreno will determine whether to move forward with Miami’s attempt to end a 15-year agreement that gave the homeless the right to conduct life-sustaining acts in public, such as like sleeping on sidewalks and cooking fires in public parks.”
“So, Marbut's focus on the increasing number of homeless families and children in North Port and Englewood served as a welcome community-wide reminder that homelessness occurs in many forms and requires different responses.”
“Months after Florida lawmakers rejected $51 billion from the federal government to expand Medicaid, state officials are prepared to request billions in new federal aid for a different program to improve care for the poor, uninsured and underinsured.”
“For the poorest Floridians who rely on Medicaid for their health care, some big changes are coming in the new year that could affect whether they still qualify.”
“Hillsborough County government should close its troubled Homeless Recovery program and seek help from private social service agencies experienced at finding housing for the poor, county staff will tell commissioners today.”
“Florida lawmakers and activists say the federal government shutdown and debt ceiling fight are only hardening battle lines around attempts to expand Medicaid in a state home to the nation's second-largest population with no health insurance. Many of Florida's uninsured are low-income workers in the state's tourism, health care and other service industries.”
“As members of the Community Alliance of Sarasota’s Homeless Committee discussed a recent survey stating there are 1,460 single homeless adults in Sarasota County, they agreed on one major point: the count is lower than the actual number of homeless around the county.”
“In another sign of commitment to addressing homelessness, Sarasota County has created a homeless coordinator.”
“President Barack Obama's top health official acknowledged that the administration didn't adequately anticipate the crush of applicants for the federal health care program but said she is confident ‘in the very near future we will have it flowing smoothly.’”
“A defunct motel in Osceola County's tourist corridor is getting new life as the county's first long-term housing complex for homeless families.”
“Habitat for Humanity will celebrate the completion of its first multifamily development in Orlando this evening by announcing the start of a second — 59 affordable homes on property that has been blighted for 20 years.”
“Nearly 7,000 people in Pinellas County are homeless, according to a study released Thursday by the county's Homeless Leadership Board.”
“The thousands of Tampa area residents who depend on federal food stamps and welfare programs will keep their benefits during the government shutdown, according to a spokesman for the state Department of Children and Families.”
“Parents of children enrolled in Head Start began looking for alternative child care on Tuesday, after the federal-government shutdown closed nine of the early-education centers in the Big Bend.”
“Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., has a message for Republican Gov. Rick Scott who doesn’t want Obamacare ‘navigators’ spreading the word about the health care law: Relax. We’ve had similar folks helping Floridians navigate health care programs for many years.”
“An optimistic Obama administration touted a major phase of the Affordable Care Act — online health-insurance marketplaces — as having more options and lower premiums for consumers than originally projected.”
“Roughly half of uninsured Floridians should be able to buy health insurance coverage for about $100 a month when they start signing up for Obamacare next month, a new federal report says.”
“Florida child welfare officials have inked a deal with a new vendor for electronic food stamps.”
“Those are two things Orlando has struggled to do when it comes to our economy. Instead of making changes, we keep feeding the low-wage beast.”
“The law's framers had expected people like him who make less than the federal poverty level, or $11,500 for an individual, to get coverage through the health law's expansion of Medicaid. But Florida is among about two dozen states that chose not to expand eligibility to cover everyone under 138 percent of the poverty level after the Supreme Court made it optional.”
“Nearly 1 million Floridians will fall through a large doughnut hole next month when the health insurance exchange — a key element in the Affordable Care Act — opens.”
“In 2012, the state reported an estimated 4,502 homeless people in Pasco, the second-highest population of any county in Florida. Anderson, a former Green Beret and 10-year Army veteran, knew he had to help.”
“City commissioners pledged $8,000 on Monday to help study the issue of homelessness in Sarasota County, taking what North Port Vice Mayor Jim Blucher said was a “leadership role” on the matter as the county’s largest city.”
“Alarmed by the number of homeless people who say they've been violently attacked, a coalition of advocacy groups is planning an education campaign aimed at improving safety for the thousands of men and women who sleep nightly on South Florida streets.”
“Last week, Hillsborough County Administrator Mike Merrill agreed to, then canceled, an interview with the Times about Homeless Recovery. Friday evening, he sent a memo to county commissioners informing them of sweeping changes he planned for the agency.”
“Despite sporadic reports of an improving economy, more and more Englewood-area families are struggling to keep food on their tables and shelter over their heads. Local organizations providing help to the needy say the problem is only getting worse.”
“Florida's economy has been losing ground since about 2000 on almost every measurement, including income, unemployment and inflation, a report released Monday says.”
“It has been worse than a lost decade for Florida, economically speaking. Working families statewide have been losing ground since 2000 based on nearly every metric, according to an analysis being released today.”
“Thousands of low-income seniors in Southwest Florida and areas of the East Coast are poised this weekend to become part of the state’s long-debated shift to a Medicaid managed-care system.”
“Sarasota County commissioners wanted to send a message when they earmarked $500,000 in next year's budget to address homelessness.”
“One of the best early outcomes of Robert Marbut's work on homelessness in Sarasota County could result from expansion of existing, private-sector initiatives.”
“’Cape Coral is probably the hardest place to be homeless because of the size,’ Hall said. ‘Everything is far and wide on the other side of town, especially on a bike. A lot of people are underemployed, the work is not steady enough. They are just getting their stuff together and then lose their job.’”
“In his first trip as a paid homelessness consultant for Sarasota County, Marbut met with people focused on housing families, talked with about 30 homeless individuals, drove by potential sites for a chronic homeless shelter and emphasized the need for a hard count on people living ‘unsheltered,’ in camps and on the street.”
“Over bitter objections from many riders, Palm Beach County Commissioners voted unanimously today to increase fares on Palm Tran and Palm Tran Connection — with the largest percentage increase going to the poorest riders.”
“Robert Marbut is in Sarasota County and working, under contract with local governments, to create a strategic action plan to reduce homelessness. Finally.”
“As the new school year begins, the Lee County Homeless Coalition is encouraging the community to consider the many children facing homelessness. According to Project ACCESS, a program for all homeless children and youth referred through The School District of Lee County, there were 1,450 children reported as homeless in Lee County during the 2012-2013 school year.”
“Family Promise, Fitton said, is the only agency — since the closing of the Salvation Army family shelter last December — that offers a program to provide shelter for homeless families with minor children, thus ‘keeping the family together.’"
“Robert G. Marbut Jr., Ph.D., a recognized expert in this field, was hired by the city of Key West to study its homeless issue. This past week, he reported his findings and recommendations to the City Commission. For the most part, the report recommended what Mayor Craig Cates has been advocating for two years: the creation of a new homeless shelter that consolidates all services in one spot and is open 24 hours a day.”
“With dozens of changes in just the past three years, the formula behind Florida’s A-to-F school grading system has been criticized as a confusing mess. But there’s been at least one constant in Miami-Dade and Broward results: The wealthiest schools never get Fs, and schools with high populations of poor students face an uphill battle to even get a C.”
“Actual premiums have been described as both ‘higher’ and ‘lower’ than those outside health exchanges today. Federal subsidies will help families with incomes up to 400 percent of the federal poverty level. Amid these moving parts, your net cost is hard to predict.”
“The version passed in North Carolina, HB 392, imposes additional requirements on the Work First Program, which provides temporary support for families as they work toward self-sufficiency, and on Food and Nutrition Services, which helps low-income households buy adequate food. As state employees told legislators at legislative hearings, these programs already use a system of interviews and drug screenings to efficiently screen applicants who may be at risk of drug or alcohol addiction.”
“Key West has a staggering rate of chronic homeless men who are not staying at the island's overnight shelter, city commissioners learned Tuesday night, as a national expert said the local homeless count has been drastically underreported.”
“The problems in St. Pete became so extreme that city leaders turned for help to a national consultant, Robert Marbut of San Antonio, Texas. Following his suggestions, local leaders established a large homeless facility that provided shelter, food and counseling services. The approach is working. The situation is better for residents, visitors, businesses, the homeless themselves and the people who advocate on their behalf.”
“With more and more people being forced to live on the streets due to being jobless or battling an addiction, Sarasota County is looking at the possibility of seeking outside help to bring the area's homeless population off the street.”
“Lucas said housing programs are expected to be cut next year by 5 percent and possibly more. Less money also will be available to help people in emergency situations. Programs that help the chronically homeless, such as those who are physically or mentally ill, as well as those trying to overcome substance abuse, will be cut, she said.”
“More than two years after Florida lawmakers passed a controversial plan to transform the Medicaid system, it’s showtime.”
“The kindhearted on this island have unwittingly increased the number of homeless men and women by offering services in parks and at beaches and giving in to panhandlers, according to a report released Tuesday.”
“Palm Tran is proposing its first overall fare increase since 2008, and the public can voice its concerns at a 9:30 a.m. hearing on Aug. 13. The rate increases will affect riders both on Palm Tran bus routes and Palm Tran Connection paratransit service for low-income elderly and handicapped riders.”
“Calling workers rights a critical economic issue that people just do not talk about, Grayson, D-Orlando, held his first town hall meeting since getting elected last fall. He used the event to focus on his bill to raise the minimum wage to $10.50 an hour.”
“It's a new venture for the Epoch, which has been circulating for almost two years. When the city of Tampa passed restrictions on panhandling in November 2011, local businessman Bill Sharpe started the newspaper as part of the North American Street Newspaper Association — a group that produces publications geared toward homelessness issues that are sold by homeless people.”
“A new report released Monday by the U.S. Census shows that two Florida cities with large concentrations of college students experience big declines in poverty rates when college students aren't counted.”
“Not only does Florida refuse to take federal funds to expand Medicaid — spurning $51 billion over the next decade — but it now turns out that it also trails nearly every other state when it comes to accepting federal grants from Washington for healthcare reform.”
“As the state prepares to move forward next month with shifting thousands of elderly Floridians into Medicaid managed-care plans, Humana Inc. is buying a major player in the program. Humana said Wednesday it has reached an agreement to acquire American Eldercare Inc., which has received contracts to provide long-term care under Medicaid to seniors throughout the state.”
“Federal officials on Wednesday renewed calls for Florida lawmakers to accept an estimated $50 billion over the next 10 years to expand Medicaid, the joint state and federal health insurance program for the poor, to cover an additional one million Floridians who would otherwise remain uninsured even after Jan. 1 when healthcare reform begins in earnest.”
“A community's interest in preventing homelessness and mitigating its effects tends to focus on the social value of those efforts. That has been the case recently in Sarasota County, where the momentum is building to create and implement a strategic, comprehensive plan for tackling homelessness.”
“Last week, Florida officials celebrated news that the state's homeless population is shrinking. But not in Central Florida. Here, it is on the rise. Yes, the same Council on Homelessness report that found a 17 percent drop statewide cited a 29 percent increase in Orange County.”
“The excuses are flowing for returning $2.4 million to the state that should have been used to help poor Pinellas families pay for child care. The Early Learning Coalition executive director's explanations range from too much work for her staff to handle to successful cost-cutting. That's no consolation for working families who needed the help and didn't get it even though the money was available. They deserve better, and public officials should demand it.”
“The odds of raising poor kids to not be poor can vary widely depending on where those families live. A new study finds kids raised by parents in the lowest fifth of incomes are more likely to rise out of those poorest economic circumstances in rural areas of southwest Texas and along a zigzag line north through the Midwest.”
“’I'm looking at that box of cereal again,’ said state Sen. Dwight Bullard, D-Miami, who was seeing what it was like last week to live on the minimum wage. The South Florida legislator calculated that he had $52.62 at his disposal for food, transportation and entertainment for the week. And by Thursday night, that meant eating a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios for supper.”
“Hunger can have a far more damaging effect in a child's life than a stomachache. Unable to concentrate in school and deprived of nutrition, a hungry child can suffer the consequences for a lifetime. That's why expanding school nutrition programs is a logical step at a time when more Tampa Bay children are living in poverty. Ensuring that children are ready to learn is in the entire community's interest.”
“The City Council passed new restrictions Thursday on panhandling and behaviors like sleeping in parks or on sidewalks. One new ordinance bans panhandling in downtown and Ybor City, as well as near banks, ATMs, sidewalk cafes and bus or trolley stops. It passed 6-1, with Mary Mulhern in dissent.”
“Try living a minimum wage existence for a week, and you'll learn some hard lessons in low finance.
That's what two South Florida politicians are doing for five days: paying for food, transportation and entertainment on what a $7.79 an hour laborer earns.”
“The Department of Veterans Affairs recently awarded nearly $5.3 million in homeless prevention grants to agencies serving Charlotte, Collier, Desoto, Hillsborough, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota counties. The grants will serve approximately 1,260 homeless and at-risk veteran families as part of the Supportive Services for Veteran Families program.”
“Every year when their grants expire, homeless aid groups across Florida scramble to apply for new ones, hoping to piece together enough funding to keep their doors open. That ‘hodgepodge’ system of funding nonprofits and homeless shelters is not working, according to state Sen. Jack Latvala, who is planning to propose changes next year.”
“This week, the Office of Homelessness at the Florida Department of Children and Families trumpeted a 17-percent drop in the number of homeless people in the state. The numbers come from an annual survey. Yet here in Tallahassee, the federally mandated Point-in-Time Count, taken in January, found more than 1,000 homeless people — a 35-percent increase from 2012.”
“The most recent count shows a 17.5-percent drop in the number of people in Florida with no shelter.
In 2012, nearly 55,000 Floridians were homeless during a one-day count. This year, just more than 45,000 Floridians were living with no permanent residency, a sign the economy is improving.”
“The decisions made by the Legislature are the result of an evaluation of public-policy options. Sometimes this evaluation process is very complex as we recently experienced with the option to expand the Medicaid program. Our decision was made after gathering all of the facts and determining the expansion of Medicaid is not in Florida's best interest at this time.”
“The Florida Legislature's decision to not expand Medicaid eligibility as proposed in the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, hits Florida's poor doubly hard, but it also hits businesses and insured people with higher costs, dozens of speakers told area elected officials Monday.”
“The decision by Florida House Speaker Will Weatherford to end the 2013 legislative session without agreeing on Medicaid funding is simply perplexing. It is not only bad politics — going against the will of the people, the governor and the business community — it is bad policy. Unfortunately, the decision reflects Florida's attitude toward health care for the poor, disabled and for people of color.”
“Legislators walked away from extending Medicaid coverage to Florida residents at or below 138 percent of the federal poverty level after House leaders fiercely resisted the option. Blue Cross and Blue Shield, doing business as Florida Blue, contracts with the state to run a Medicaid managed care program, which was expected to get $50 billion over 10 years through Medicaid expansion.”
“Foreclosures, unemployment rates and lack of job opportunities have left communities nationwide devastated with an increase of homelessness. According to the presentation, Florida ranked third highest nationally in the number of homeless individuals in 2012. With 54,300 homeless individuals, Florida is just short of New York's 63,445 and California's 135,928 homeless people.”
“And Miami-Dade is no exception, where the institute found it takes nearly three times the federal poverty line to live a modest lifestyle. A two-parent, one-child family living in the Miami-Miami-Beach-Kendall metro area needs to earn $60,168 a year to cover all basic expenses, according to EPI. Meanwhile the federal poverty line for a family of three was set at $19,090 for 2012.”
“The federal government's decision to delay until 2015 the requirement that large businesses provide health insurance for workers has stalled any momentum for calling a special session to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income Floridians.”
“The federal government’s decision to delay until 2015 the requirement that large businesses provide health insurance for workers has stalled any momentum for calling a special session to expand Medicaid coverage for low-income Floridians. But a top state legislative leader said the Obama administration’s decision to back off the mandate — requiring employers with more than 50 workers to provide coverage or face penalties in January — could present an opportunity to develop a more innovative plan to expand health care coverage in Florida.”
“As a leading local agency in the effort to end homelessness, The Lord's Place believes that no one chooses to live on the streets. The solution for homelessness is offering diversified housing programs to serve people with addiction and mental health issues.”
“For Rust and others in his situation, a proposal coming before the Brevard County Commission on Tuesday could be the first step toward finding an alternative to living on the streets. The commission will consider creating a 15-member task force on homelessness. Among its tasks would be finding ways to expand the availability of emergency shelters in the county.”
“As more families in Lee and Collier counties find themselves teetering on the brink of homelessness, local organizations are using new measures to make sure those families retain Holt's sense of optimism and self sufficiency. Lee County's Bridges program, started about a year ago, strives to help families find permanent housing before or immediately after they are evicted, rather than go through a lengthy housing process.”
“But whether the millions in grants have rescued people from homelessness or led to jobs for the unemployed is essentially unknown. Starting next fiscal year, county officials hope to change that by writing new reporting requirements into their contracts with more than 200 aid groups and asking for more data on outcomes. The move would need County Commission approval.”
“About 57 percent of all kids in the Palm Beach County School District receive a free or reduced lunch, according to the Palm Beach County Food Bank. But, the question is: How do a lot of those kids eat when school is out for the summer?”
“The collateral damage from the delay already is apparent in Tallahassee. One of the economic arguments to prod the Florida Legislature to expand Medicaid to cover 1 million uninsured residents involves the now-delayed penalties for employers.”
“The Obama administration’s decision to delay the requirement that large employers provide health insurance to workers left Florida Democrats and their allies acknowledging Wednesday that it likely ends any hope of expanding Medicaid coverage in the near future for low-income residents.”
“Miami city leaders didn’t quite get all they wanted Monday, but they believe they took a step forward in a quest to move the chronically homeless away from downtown, when Miami-Dade Homeless Trust members unanimously approved a $54.8 million budget that includes 85 new beds in city shelters.”
“But it took at least 10 times that number - in caring individuals, non-profit groups, local banks, area businesses, city departments, law-enforcement organizations and others - to bring actual life to the downtown resource center, a pilot-project facility that will officially open July 10 and assist Jacksonville's homeless population.”
“The city of Tampa is poised to crack down on panhandling and the congregation of homeless people downtown when it should be engaged in a broader discussion about long-range solutions. The City Council endorsed two proposed ordinances last week that come close to criminalizing homelessness, and there should be a more thoughtful debate when council members return to the issue July 18.”
“The city is one step closer to enacting a new set of restrictions on homeless people, an emotional issue that drew business owners, homeless people and advocates to Thursday's City Council meeting. Council members discussed two proposed ordinances that would add more restrictions to an existing six-day-a-week ban on roadside panhandling.”
“The couple isn't alone. A report released Wednesday by Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies shows that while the housing market's recovery has been good news for middle-class and affluent families, it's hurting many low-income people, particularly minorities. Because they have fewer choices, they are being squeezed by higher home prices and mortgage interest rates, as well as a severely reduced supply of both affordable homes and rentals, the report says.”
“Dozens of nonprofit groups that help Central Florida's homeless are scrambling to tap emergency reserves and secure loans to keep their programs afloat amid an ‘unprecedented’ delay in receiving federal money. Unless they get help in the next month, their leaders say, several hundred individuals and families could find themselves back out on the street.
“Miami and the many agencies dealing with the less fortunate are on the threshold of taking the next major step in our 20-year quest to end homelessness in our community. Working in unison, the time is right to reduce the last vestige of homeless in Miami: the chronic homeless, many of whom have been on the streets for multiple years, even multiple decades.”
“More than three-fourths of Florida's children covered by Medicaid do not get regular dental care — the worst rate of any state, according to a report released today by the Pew Children's Dental Campaign. The lack of care affected 1.5 million children across the state in 2011, the period analyzed by the Pew researchers. Nationally, they said, tens of millions of low-income children went without dental care that year.”
“Last week, the city began pricing the costs to manufacture signs that would encourage motorists to spend their money on something else. ‘I have nothing against homeless people; this is addressed at getting folks out of our medians,’ said Commissioner Dan Daley, who proposed the program that would mimic signs already in place in Palm Beach County, where signs say ‘It's OK to Say No to Panhandlers,’ and Fort Lauderdale, whose signs read ‘Panhandling: Don't contribute to the problem. Contribute to the solution.’"
“Palm Beach County is five years in to an ambitious 10-year ‘Plan to End Homelessness.’ But that doesn't mean they're halfway done. And there's more they could be doing to get there, according to a report from the National Alliance to End Homelessness. Despite strides and a sharp drop in the number of homeless people since last year, the county needs more cheap housing and a kind of central command to oversee the multiplicity of service providers, experts said.”
“High levels of poverty and unemployment are fixtures within many black and Hispanic neighborhoods, while the county's wealthiest areas are almost exclusively white, a new analysis of Orange County census numbers show.”
“Homelessness is a major problem in our country, and in our community. The reasons people become homeless are as varied as the individuals themselves. There clearly is no one cause nor one solution to this complex social problem. Curing all the underlying causes of homelessness clearly is impossible, but providing basic needs such as food and shelter is something communities can and do address on a daily basis.”
“A long-awaited, one-stop service site for the working poor and struggling families will be announced this week by the Community Food & Outreach Center. Dubbed ‘Compassion Central,’ the project would expand the center's campus on West Michigan Street to 54,000 square feet. There, as many as 30 fellow nonprofits would join in providing food, clothing, medical care, counseling, job training and other services.”
“A coalition of veterans and other community organizations earn civic accolades for working together to house homeless comrades. The goal is specific: shelter for 50 homeless veterans in 100 days. That means the program, which launched in April, would rescue about half of the county's homeless veteran population by mid-July.”
“A housing community that city officials say is essential to redeveloping a poverty-stricken area known as the 'Heart of Boynton' may not go ahead because the project is short of money. Ocean Breeze West is a joint community/government effort to transform a 4 1/2-acre property on Seacrest Boulevard from a former criminal hangout into a working-class community, but unfulfilled obligations and an unpredicted deficit of $300,000 threatens the proposed neighborhood's future.”
“According to a report released last month by the Florida Department of Education, the proportion of students who qualified for free or reduced-price lunch in Alachua County public schools during the 2012-13 school year was 52.96 percent — about 14,200 children. That's the highest percentage yet, and the growing totals don't show signs of slowing down.”
“SOAR stands for Skills, Opportunity, Achievement and Reward and is designed to help residents who might not otherwise have the chance to attend school, take some classes. The tuition reimbursement program is funded through a Community Development Block Grant the village received and will be applied to all qualified low-income families, as long as they meet the requirements.”
“Yet the overnight shelter beds, at Camillus House, not only would immediately provide an alternative — they, too, can lead to effective rehabilitation services. The difference is that homeless people there can volunteer to take advantage of them, or decline to do so.”
“The proposed investment by the city is conditioned on the county Homeless Trust agreeing to fund an additional 85 beds — and the Homeless Trust is refusing to go along. ‘We’re not going to buy shelter beds,’ Executive Director Hilda Fernandez said. ‘It’s not our model. Shelter beds don’t provide a means to become self sufficient.’”
“The Department of Veterans Affairs has chosen to terminate a multi-million-dollar grant awarded to the Alachua County Housing Authority in 2008 for the establishment of a transitional housing project for homeless veterans. The VA chose to withdraw the grant funding due to ‘ACHA's inability to build the project and make it operational in a timely manner,’ according to a housing authority news release.
“Analysts say food stamp cuts are the legislation's make-or-break issue, given otherwise broad similarities between the two versions. While the Senate would trim food stamps by $4 billion over a decade, the bill awaiting debate in the House calls for a $20 billion cut, the largest in a generation. Some 2 million people, or 4 percent of enrollment, would lose benefits.”
“The Deliver the Difference Summer Kidspack program is back this summer, and the organization plans to deliver almost three times as many meals to hungry children as it did last year. The nonprofit group's goal is to deliver about 100,000 meals to kids in the Paisley/Lake Mack/Altoona area over the summer.”
“A political battle is mounting over the chronically homeless in downtown Miami. In one corner: the Miami City Commission, led by Chairman Marc Sarnoff, and the semi-autonomous Downtown Development Authority. They argue that a 15-year-old legal ruling known as Pottinger v. Miami is preventing city leaders from addressing chronic homelessness — and are petitioning a federal judge for changes to the landmark settlement
“Homeless veterans in Alachua County will have 65 new chances to secure permanent housing thanks to vouchers the federal government has awarded to the county housing authority. The Department of Housing and Urban Development announced this week it would provide $60 million to public housing agencies across the nation -- about $6 million of which will go to Florida agencies -- to provide permanent housing for these struggling veterans through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program.”
“Through its Darden Harvest program, started 10 years ago, its restaurants (which also include Olive Garden and Red Lobster here in Polk County), 'harvest' surplus food that was not served and donate it to local community food banks. The Winter Haven Longhorn's Steakhouse averages an estimated 120 pounds per week, according to John Huebner, managing partner of the restaurant.”
“But in a move that advocates say could dent the city’s progressive image, Miami commissioners last month voted to ask a federal court to alter the terms of a landmark settlement that bolstered the rights of the city’s homeless.”
“St. Petersburg officials are hoping to encourage urban renewal in those areas by establishing a Community Redevelopment Area, a step in allowing them to set up a special taxing district. If and when property values rise inside that district, which will be known as the South St. Petersburg CRA, the city would be able to spend the tax revenues on capital projects such as lighting and sewer improvements, or buying vacant land.”
“The new Camillus House facility, at 1603 N.W. Seventh Ave., was designed to take a comprehensive approach to the issues facing homeless adults. The facility provides both temporary beds and 80 apartments for permanent residents, as well as a clinic with five exam rooms. The clinic includes 22 beds for individuals who need overnight medical assistance, Camillus House President and CEO Paul Ahr said.”
“Orlando’s poor population more than doubled between 2000 and 2011 — from 143,447 to 290,783, according to Confronting Suburban Poverty in America, authored by Elizabeth Kneebone and Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution Metropolitan Policy Program. With a poverty rate of 15.4 percent in 2011, Orlando also had the 16th-highest poverty rate of the top 100 metropolitan areas of the country.”
“Lee County is participating in a nationwide innovative 100-day challenge coordinated by the 100,000 Homes Campaign, the Rapid Results Institute and several federal agencies, including Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. The challenge aims to help communities with high concentrations of homeless veterans make progress toward President Barack Obama’s goal of ending veteran homelessness by 2015. The Lee County Homeless Coalition aims to house 241 veterans by 2015.”
“County commissioners unanimously approved a $600,000 grant to help Metropolitan Ministries build a 24-unit complex in Holiday to provide transitional housing for families hit hard by the recession.”
“Across the country, the poverty rate is surging in the suburbs, where the number of poor people is growing much faster than in central cities — a largely unrecognized reversal that calls for a retooling of federal anti-poverty, economic development and transit funding, the Brookings Institution has found.”
“To begin with, the homeless problem in Pasco County is arguably as severe as anywhere in the state. Exact figures are difficult to come by, but a recent report suggests there are far more homeless people per capita in Pasco than in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach or any of Florida's other population centers.”
“Lee County's homeless population remained almost unchanged from last year according to a January survey of people living on the street. The count indicated 848 people were homeless in January, compared with 842 for the same time in 2012. The numbers were released Friday by the Lee County Homeless Coalition.”
“Advocates for the homeless found a total of 2,275 homeless people in Hillsborough County — about half the number from two years ago — in a count and recount this year.”
“Eligible seniors pay for the one-bedroom units based on their income. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development provides subsidies when needed. That means a one-bedroom at the building might go for $400 per month instead of an market value topping $1,000 monthly, developers said.”
“Three of the schools are getting a new principal, while two will keep their current leaders. Teachers are reapplying for their jobs, and at least one school already is advertising teaching positions for the coming year. The goal is to improve student performance by changing the school's culture. At high-poverty schools, where students sometimes are years behind their peers academically, the turnaround is an uphill slog.”
“Many of Florida's 24,580 teaching assistants do the work for hourly pay that's low enough to qualify them and a dependent for food stamps. In Lake County, beginning assistants are paid an average of $12,571, according to a state survey last year -- an amount so low that a single person with a child would be below the federal poverty line.”
“So Tampa is at a crossroads. Panhandling of cars has been largely restricted, and now the City Council is looking at banning panhandling downtown, in Ybor City and at ATMs (and it's hard for anyone to muster up an argument against the ATM part). As in other Tampa Bay cities wrestling with the headaches of homelessness, they're also considering rules restricting the stashing of one's stuff in public, outdoor urinating and sleeping in parks and on sidewalks.”
“Since the homeless population is also a highly transient one, with a new ID required for each new address, homeless people may need to obtain several different state IDs a year. That $6.25 processing fee can add up quickly for someone who has little or no income and no permanent address.”
"Broward County's contingent of homeless will soon be tracked as they wander through the system of support services, from hospital to jail to shelter, after the county authorized money to fund a computer database."
“When it comes to providing services to the homeless, Mayor Bob Buckhorn and all the members of the City Council are not yet on the same page. Last week, the council voted to explore tighter restrictions on panhandling in downtown and Ybor City, as well as on sleeping in city parks and on sidewalks.”
“Southwest Florida hospital and clinic directors say state lawmakers aren't being smart. Failing to forge a deal on expanding Medicaid to more than 1 million poor residents - with the bill footed by the federal government - is a bad move, they contend. The Legislature closed its session Friday without an agreement to expand the state and federally funded program, using $51 million over 10 years from the federal government under the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.”
“If the Florida House Republicans have their way, here is what the state’s workers would stand to lose: paid sick leave, a living wage, wage theft protections and equal opportunity benefits (for same sex couples, for example).”
“The City Council voted Thursday to explore a ban on panhandling in downtown and Ybor City as well as near automated teller machines, banks and sidewalk cafes citywide.”
“A summer-camp program for homeless students in Central Florida has had considerable success in its first two years, organizers say -- but it's still reaching fewer than 15 percent of the 9,500 children eligible.”
“Florida House Republicans' steadfast rejection of billions in federal health care assistance for low-income residents will have terrible consequences on Florida -- and especially Manatee County -- unless the Legislature's lower chamber reverses course in the next two days.”
“House Republicans voted last week to reject the Senate plan, which would take the federal money and use it to add low-income Floridians to private insurance plans. The Legislature's inability to agree means that more than a million low-income Floridians will remain without insurance, at least in the short term.”
“Democrats slowed legislative business in the House to a crawl Tuesday as they protested the Republican majority's refusal to accept billions of dollars in federal money to expand health coverage for low-income Floridians.”
“The Florida Chamber of Commerce, Associated Industries of Florida, the health care industry and a majority of state voters favor taking the federal money. There is still time for House Speaker Will Weatherford and his allies to recognize this is a pragmatic solution and accept this compromise without jeopardizing their conservative credentials.”
“By a vote of 38 to 1, the Florida Senate approved a health plan for low-income residents that would rely on federal dollars, but its future in the state House is in doubt.”
“Using only volunteer labor and private donations of everything from materials to tools to cash, Habitat Hernando has built 35 new homes since 1993 and has renovated two dozen others in an effort to provide affordable housing for low-income residents.”
“Two Pasco County Republicans, House Speaker Will Weatherford and Rep. Richard Corcoran, are expected to ram through the House their health care proposal today that would cover too few, cost too much and offer false hope to the uninsured. Other Tampa Bay Republicans should stand up to their leaders and demand better for their constituents.”
“The report, ‘Losing Ground: A Profile of Florida's Families in Poverty’ by FIU's Research Institute on Social and Economic Policy says poverty affects more than individuals -- it is exacerbating inequalities and driving substantial numbers of families into poverty.”
“In fact, it is Nerios’s job to enroll at least 150 seniors for food stamps each month, a quota she usually exceeds. Alleviate hunger, lessen poverty: These are the primary goals of her work. But the job also has a second and more controversial purpose for cash-strapped Florida, where increasing food-stamp enrollment has become a means of economic growth, bringing almost $6 billion each year into the state.”
“Numbers released this past week show 3,305 people in Pasco were homeless on any given day in 2013. Of those, 3,200 were unsheltered, while 105 were housed in shelters. About a quarter of the homeless - 815 people - had been without a home for more than a year, or at least four times in their lives. Campbell said the method of counting the homeless population, done every two years for the county to be eligible for grants, was developed for urban areas "where homeless people congregate in parks" and are visible. In Pasco, many folks live deep in the woods, and volunteers are cautioned not to venture too far in for their own safety.”
“SHIP provides funds through partners around the state to meet community-specific needs. The money helps the elderly on fixed incomes make repairs to their homes so that they can continue to live there. It helps first-time buyers with down payments and closing costs. It can help someone pay for a security deposit. SHIP is flexible and can help fill those one-time financial gaps and keep a roof over someone’s head. Given Florida’s slowly recovering economy, why would House lawmakers eliminate these funds?”
“The SEIU said Florida taxpayers have paid billions toward the pool of federal funds available to expand Medicaid. The expansion, according to the union, would extend much-needed health coverage to Florida's needy and under-insured, create 120,000 jobs, strengthen the state's hospitals and add tens of billions of dollars to state coffers over the next several years.”
“Battle lines hardened Friday over health insurance as a House budget panel advanced a plan that falls far short of a more sweeping push backed by Gov. Rick Scott, the Senate and many business leaders. The House proposal would extend health coverage to 115,000 Floridians living below the federal poverty line and cost state taxpayers $237 million annually.”
“The settlement agreement bars the police from arresting a homeless person for performing a life-sustaining misdemeanor offense, such as sleeping or bathing in a public space, if there is not an available shelter bed to place him or her. The philosophy behind it is that a human being should not be criminalized for being deprived of a roof over one’s head, nor should one’s deteriorated belongings be seized or destroyed.”
“To revive a carte blanche to violate the constitutional rights of this marginalized population by imposing harsh treatment would only exacerbate the problem not diminish it. That’s because it would displace the homeless population from the city’s core to other neighborhoods or municipalities of Greater Miami — which is exactly what the city government wants to pursue.”
“According to Ron Book, chairman of Miami-Dade County’s Homeless Trust, there were 8,000 homeless 20 years ago when the group was established. Now, because the community developed a comprehensive system to rehabilitate homelessness — and even prevent it — he says that there are 900 throughout the county. That’s a whopping decrease.”
“A Senate budget panel Wednesday sought to forge a deal with the House on a plan to draw billions of dollars in federal money to provide health insurance to 1.1 million low-income Floridians. With the House still opposing any plan that relies on federal dollars, Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, said lawmakers should not only approve his sweeping Healthy Florida plan, but also a scaled-back approach favored by fellow Republicans in the House.”
“Lawmakers have already decided not to accept a simple expansion of Medicaid available under the Affordable Care Act, with the federal government paying 100 percent of the cost for three years and at least 90 percent afterward. But Negron wants to use that money -- $51 billion over 10 years, matched by $3.5 billion in state funds -- to buy private insurance for up to 1 million low-income people.”
“Sequestration already has forced cutbacks for the meals program that is a lifeline for some older residents. It will mean less money for our public schools with high percentages of low-income students. But it's Head Start that probably best illustrates the way we spend federal money, our generosity to older people and our stinginess to the young.”
“Ignoring a handful of protesters who launched a brief sit-in in the House Speaker's office, a House panel Tuesday approved a controversial alternative to Medicaid expansion that would spend $237 million a year to provide some form of health care to 115,700 low-income Floridians.”
“The future of Bright Futures isn't all that bright. Tough new standards will keep significantly more high school graduates from obtaining the state's merit-based scholarship. It's almost as if to save Bright Futures, state leaders are going out of their way to destroy it, especially for minority and low-income students.”
“New clinics have opened for the homeless in Broward and Palm Beach counties. The Bernard P. Alicki Health Center in Fort Lauderdale and a clinic operated by the health department in the Sen. Philip D. Lewis Homeless Resource Center in West Palm Beach are striving to keep healthy those with no money, no support system — and often no hope.”
“The Pasco County Republican argues the federal government cannot afford to provide health coverage indefinitely to low-income residents. He may be right, and that's one of the reasons Scott's endorsement is not open-ended. But Weatherford fails to acknowledge that the government is already paying for the medical needs of the nation's poorest residents, and Medicaid expansion is a way to control those costs with preventive care instead of emergency room treatment.”
“All students deserve an equal opportunity to pursue a college education. State policymakers and Florida's public universities should be especially sensitive to the needs of black, Hispanic and other minority students, who attend many college campuses in numbers that remain far too low. However, the guidelines approved by Florida lawmakers in 2011 and set to take effect July 1 will ensure Bright Future's continued survival — a highly uncertain outcome without this action.”
“Under the Florida Health Choices Plus plan, released Thursday morning, the state would attempt to cover 115,700 low-income Floridians by giving them $2,000 per year — the recipients must kick in an additional $300 — to purchase what House Speaker Will Weatherford called ‘safety net’ coverage.”
“Despite a cash-flush budget that has policymakers considering a grab-bag of corporate and stadium incentives, Florida lawmakers are still raiding a fund created two decades ago to help provide low-income housing. And housing advocates are concerned that Florida's multibillion-dollar foreclosure settlement – which is being used in part to fund housing programs this year – is masking that cash raid.”
“Florida House Democrats will try to use what limited muscle they have in the legislative process and vote as a caucus against the $74-billion House budget plan this week because it does not include a plan to expand Medicaid coverage to roughly 1 million low-income Floridians.”
“A Florida Senate committee has approved a bill that would prohibit welfare recipients from using debit-like electronic cards to access cash benefits at strip clubs, liquor stores and gambling establishments.”
“Lack of economic diversity among students in some Sanford area elementary schools is pushing the Seminole School Board to consider taking a stronger role in deciding who attends which school. That could include setting a specific percentage of low-income students for each of the five schools on the west side of town and assigning students to meet that percentage, based on whether the children qualify for government subsidized lunches.”
“Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, added an unexpected provision to her sweeping education accountability bill Thursday: a pitch to free Florida school districts from having to provide private tutoring services at low-income schools.”
“Rollins students make up more than half of the adult mentoring force at Fern Creek, spending at least one hour a week with their designated child. The college also has helped develop a science lab at the elementary school, resurrected an arts club, taught a robotics class, painted classrooms, worked on landscaping projects, directed a theater production and donated more than 1,000 books to the school's library.”
“Florida school districts typically have used teacher recommendations and then an IQ test to identify gifted children. But teachers as ‘gatekeepers’ are problematic, Ford said, because most teachers aren't trained to spot gifted kids and often overlook the poor, minorities and those still learning English, as they don't fit their notion of the very bright. In Ford's view, traditional IQ tests also are biased against those groups, exacerbating the problem.”
“Negron's ‘Healthy Florida’ program would use the federal Medicaid expansion dollars, estimated at $55 billion over 10 years. It would almost fully subsidize private health insurance for Floridians who earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty line, or $15,586 for individuals. There are some clear benefits to Negron's proposal. Low-income Floridians with government-subsidized private insurance would have access to the same doctors as other privately insured patients. Since some health professionals refuse Medicaid patients due to low reimbursement rates, this might expand access to services.”
“One of this year's worst pieces of legislation would cut state welfare benefits to a family if a child doesn't do well in school. The theory is that cutting benefits to a poor family will cause parents to take greater responsibility for their child's education. This unfortunate piece of legislation is naïve in its supposition, ill advised in targeting children, uninformed about the causes of underperforming students and insensitive to its potential consequences. We urge lawmakers to remove it from consideration.”
“Low-income schools traditionally have been a training ground for novice teachers and a depository for ineffective ones. A string of ineffective teachers is a deal killer for disadvantaged students who get little enrichment at home and can rarely make up the lost ground.”
“Rep. Kathleen Passidomo, R-Naples, added an unexpected provision to her sweeping education accountability bill Thursday: a pitch to free Florida school districts from having to provide private tutoring services at low-income schools.”
“The partnership’s centers now have 800 beds for men, women and children. Since 1996, the centers have had 90,000 admissions, including 18,000 children. The partnership boasts a 62-percent success rate in placing clients into permanent or transitional housing.”
“Volker Reiss, compliance supervisor, listed possible changes to city enterprise zones during a Bradenton City Council workshop Wednesday morning. The changes have been spurred by improving federal economic data involving employment and poverty in Bradenton.”
“County commissioners Tuesday cut a series of federally supported community service programs that feed impoverished seniors and bus children to Head Start centers. The sequester cuts $1.9 million in grants for those programs, leaving seniors without breakfast, poor children without rides and bus drivers without jobs.”
“Campus administration plans to phase out Help One Person Excel scholarships, a program that has assisted more than 1,500 Edison State students since its introduction in 1993. Recipients are predominantly low-income, minority, first-generation college students.”
“The proposal, which Senate Health Policy Chairman Aaron Bean has helped draw up, would create the “Health Choice Plus Program” and would target adults whose incomes are below 100 percent of the federal poverty level. Health Choice Plus would not be a traditional health-insurance program. Instead, money would go into accounts, which enrollees could tap to help pay for health-care services.”
“Florida KidCare includes a range of low-cost children's health insurance programs that are funded through a federal-state partnership. Children up to 19 years old can qualify for government-subsidized health care coverage of one form or another if their families make up to 200 percent of the federal poverty line. But due to the lag time it takes to determine a family's KidCare eligibility, which usually occurs within 45 days, there can be a dangerous gap for uninsured children in medical need.”
“Employers today struggle with designing plan designs and costs that are affordable and attractive enough for low-income individuals to buy. Many employees, especially the youngest and healthiest, don't buy anyway. Rarely can low-income employees afford coverage for their families. This dynamic increases unit costs for those remaining and jeopardizes fully insured plans due to contractual participation requirements (carriers require a certain percentage of eligible to enroll; usually 75 percent). Consequently, many plans are actually richer than necessary.”
“So it will have money for pet projects, the House plans to rake the entire $200 million Sadowski Fund, of which about 70 percent is used to pay for rehabilitation and renovation of existing homes and down payment and closing cost assistance for those who qualify.”
“South Florida homeless advocates and denizens offer different approaches: Help them on the spot with cash and food, deny them, or refer them to a local social service agency.”
“There is hope in smart policy - policy proven to effectively break the cycle of poverty by providing early intervention. High quality early childhood programs like Carolina's Abecedarian program are proven to raised IQ scores by 15 points for poor children. Research proves that children who experience high-quality early child care programs are much more likely to graduate from high school and go to college, less likely to be a teen parent or need welfare, and less likely to be arrested.”
“Senate Democrats and Republican voiced support on Thursday for a proposal to subsidize private insurance policies for low-income families as an alternative to expanding Medicaid. The new program, called Healthy Florida, would be largely paid for with the $55 billion the federal government offered the state to expand Medicaid.”
“A Senate panel on Thursday introduced a proposal to broaden Medicaid coverage to about 1 million low-income Florida residents through a privatized plan that would use money available under the federal health care law.”
“A panel of Florida lawmakers today is taking up a privatized alternative to Medicaid expansion that could result in as many as one million low-income Floridians qualifying for the first time for subsidized health-care coverage. The plan, nicknamed ‘Negron-care’ for its Senate sponsor, Joe Negron, R-Stuart, is the Legislature's first attempt under the Affordable Care Act to look at a way to insure people who are poor, but not poor enough to qualify for existing Medicaid coverage.”
“A state House panel last week advanced bills to continue streamlining growth regulation and to offer more-targeted tax incentives for development in polluted or impoverished areas.”
“The clinic also would offer dental checkups, gynecological exams and pediatric services. Geared toward homeless families, who represent a growing percentage of the county's homeless population, the clinic is being proposed as a no-judgment zone for free health care.”
“Since Yourgules began homeless outreach three years ago, he has helped 200 people get to shelters, he said. Most have been single adults. He has never been unable to find shelter for someone who wants it. Clearwater, Pinellas Park, Lealman and St. Petersburg have similar homeless outreach teams. Those in St. Petersburg and Clearwater come across more families than other areas and struggle to place them in the few family shelters available, he said.”
“Rejecting the Medicaid expansion will have severe consequences for low-income Floridians, businesses, and hospitals. It means leaving 100 percent of the federal funding on the table to be sent to other states. This legislative decision affects real Floridians who need health care and live from paycheck to paycheck. Without health care coverage, these are people who will end up in our hospital emergency rooms.”
“Homeless people can receive free tuition at Florida public colleges - and State Rep. John Tobia thinks this little-known legal loophole is a poor use of tax dollars that could be exploited by ‘couch-surfing’ students.”
“Medicaid expansion for one million low-income adults in Florida may technically be dead, after committees in both the House and Senate voted to kill it. And yet, chances for an alternative plan that would accomplish the same goals are looking up.”
“There are more than 2,300 homeless children in Manatee County in any given year, said Manatee County School Board Vice Chair Julie Aranibar, who added that she had additional concerns about processed foods and sugars served in school lunches. ‘One of the things I've found is the profound impact nutrition has on a child's success. We have areas in our community where the only food available is high in fat and high in salt.’”
"Rebuffing Gov. Rick Scott's support of Medicaid expansion, a Florida Senate committee on Monday rejected the idea, all but ending the possibility that the state would add more poor people to Medicaid rolls. But the Senate panel debating the expansion proposed a compromise: to accept the federal money but use it to put low-income people into private insurance plans. Accepting the money would please the governor and a number of Floridians, while steering people away from Medicaid, which many lawmakers and residents view as troubled."
"The government's package of forced, across-the-board budget cuts - known as 'sequestration' - will reduce jobless benefits to anyone who is on the federal government's extended unemployment program. Weekly payments, which in Florida top out at $275 and average about $230, are likely to shrink by about 11 percent, according to the National Employment Law Project, a workers' advocacy group."
"The widening gap in life expectancy between these two adjacent Florida counties reflects perhaps the starkest outcome of the nation's growing economic inequality: Even as the nation's life expectancy has marched steadily upward, reaching 78.5 years in 2009, a growing body of research shows that those gains are going mostly to those at the upper end of the income ladder."
“Under Amendment 11, approved by Florida voters last November, low-income seniors who have lived in their homes at least 25 years can seek the additional property-tax exemption.”
“The Gulf Coast Jewish Family & Community Services has run this homeless shelter for two decades, taking it over after the Homeless Coalition of Pasco acquired the property, but couldn't run the facility. The shelter expanded 10 years ago, courtesy of a county-administered federal grant, that allowed a second building to be added, providing the additional bedrooms for the single moms with kids. But, the people who make use of this homeless shelter could be back out on the street.”
“As state legislators decide whether to allow Medicaid expansion in Mississippi, they should consider the number of Mississippians who can't access the medical care they need because they can't afford bills associated with going to the doctor, buying prescription medicines or hospital care. Hard-working people who have lost their jobs and health insurance should have an opportunity to get health coverage.”
“Those who object to raising the minimum wage warn that businesses will simply lay people off. However that was not Florida's experience, as noted in RISEP's study: When the minimum wage was increased in 2005, the jobless rate fell for the next eight months, extending a decline that began in 2003. And employment rose until the recession began in 2007.”
“The Pinellas County Homeless Leadership Board is happy that state legislators voted last session to waive Florida's $25 state ID card fee for people who can prove they are homeless, usually by providing a letter from a shelter.”
“A federal appeals court Tuesday agreed to block enforcement of a Florida law that requires people who apply for welfare to submit to drug testing, calling it an unreasonable search.”
“A federal appeals court upheld the temporary ban on Florida’s drug-testing for welfare recipients Tuesday, saying that a lawsuit against the state had a good chance of succeeding.”
“A federal appeals court has upheld a federal judge's decision blocking enforcement of a state law that requires drug tests for people applying for welfare. Gov. Rick Scott immediately vowed to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
“It has been 18 months since the city ousted the hundreds of homeless people that slept around City Hall and elsewhere downtown. But a recent uptick in homeless people - from the Grand Central district to the downtown waterfront - has raised concerns that the problem may be returning.”
“As city and county officials struggle to deal with hundreds of homeless men and women, this is the way their population grows — one by one. On an average day, 150 people are released from the county jail — often in the middle of the night — and many have no means, no local friends or relatives and no options.”
“Homeless children from Seminole County received freebooks through a giveaway on Saturday, sponsored by the Florida Kiwanis and organized through a local program called ‘Just 1 Book.’”
“Currently, 3 million of the state's most poverty-stricken residents -- half of them children -- are covered by the federal-state Medicaid program. Under the expansion of coverage, an estimated 900,000 additional low-income families would be covered. Greater access to medical and preventive care will improve Florida's physical health and steer patients away from more expensive emergency room care.”
“Gardenia Gardens Apartments is receiving a $6.5 million makeover, thanks to funds from the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, a federal subsidy used to finance the development of affordable rental housing for low-income households.”
“The Obama administration last week gave Gov. Rick Scott one of the two waivers he's requested for managing Medicaid, the federal-state health program for the very poor. The waiver affects long-term care for 87,000 low-income seniors and disabled people who now receive nursing home or in-home care under Medicaid. Given that Medicaid consumes about $21 billion of the state's $74 billion budget — and that long-term care accounts for about 18 percent of Medicaid's budget — we all have a stake in the efficient management of the program's long-term care services for our most frail citizens.”
“Housing authorities often have no choice but to sell or demolish distressed properties. In Pinellas County alone, housing authorities disposed of more than 1,000 units between 2004 and 2009, most of which were built in the 1970s, said Debbie Johnson at the Pinellas County Housing Authority. Meanwhile, many eligible low-income people waited two to five years to get housing.”
“NVHS, which plans to have 18 beds for homeless veterans in four transitional homes by the end of June, officially will open its second home Saturday on Sarno Road. The first opened in December 2011 in Titusville. The purchase and remodeling of the houses are being financed from a $1 million state grant NVHS received last year.”
“Ten Orlando banks and credit unions have partnered with community organizations to offer banking services to the 81,000 Orlando residents who don't use checking or savings accounts.
Bank On Greater Orlando is a collaboration with Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer, Heart of Florida United Way and Florida Prosperity Partnership, a statewide organization launched in 2008 aimed at offering programs to boost the financial stability for low-income residents.”
“More than half a million kids under 18 in Broward, Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties live in low-income households that earn up to double what is considered poverty income in the United States, the National Center for Children in Poverty at Columbia University reports.”
“Patients who can't pay and don't have ID can't sign up for Medicaid, Medicare or Social Security disability. Their hospital bills become part of the growing problem of ‘uncompensated care’ — more than $130 million last year for Florida Hospital alone — which is why Orlando Health already has donated to IDignity's mission.”
“Deputy Superintendent George Kosmac suggested several changes for the board to consider -- including shifting some students to get a better mix of low-income children in the five schools, as measured by the percentage qualifying for federally subsidized meals.”
“Thanks to a new state law, private schools that take part in the Florida Tax Credit Scholarship program -- a voucher program for low-income kids -- can give their students the FCAT (or state end-of-course exams), if they want. So far, they aren't exactly tripping over themselves to get those testing applications filed. There are more than 1,300 private schools that accept the Tax Credit scholarships this school year -- but just two have applied, so far, to administer the FCAT next year.”
“The idea of one solution fits all simply doesn't work in a community like Central Florida, where you have some who have languished in poverty for generations, and others who are struggling because of the economy. You have to have resources available when that is the overarching issue facing the family, but you also have to know when someone needs education, training and in some cases hope and inspiration to rebuild their lives. Poverty is like cancer. It spreads to every area of your life and eventually brings you to a place where you have nothing left that's not affected by it.”
“Last July, resident physicians at Manatee Memorial Hospital joined fourth-year medical students from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine at the One Stop Clinic, providing free primary care services. LECOM has been partnering with the homeless coalition since 2009. All this is a boon to the community, sparing the expense of costly emergency room care from being forced onto hospitals and eventually passed down to patients with health insurance.”
“The red kettle program is the organization's largest fundraiser. The campaign raised about $600,000, or 84 percent of its $720,000 goal. Salvation Army officials decided about 10 days ago any new homeless families that put the organization beyond its physical and financial capacity will have to be turned away, she said.”
“Officials and volunteers will fan out across Central Florida today to count and survey the region's homeless population and identify individuals with life-threatening medical problems. Led by the nonprofit Homeless Services Network and the University of Central Florida, the ‘point in time’ count is both a census used to help determine government funding and a chance to assess how well -- or poorly -- homeless people are doing.”
“In 2010, the federal government estimates, the credit helped to boost about 6 million Americans — including 3 million children — above the federal poverty line by qualifying them for refunds. Not only can it have a profound effect on a family's budget, the credit also helps the economy overall. Last year in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties combined, residents got back $551.6 million in earned-income credit — money that typically went to buy groceries, pay off debts, cover car and home repairs and catch up on bills.”
“Thursday marked the start of Pinellas County's attempt to count its homeless population, a requirement to receive federal housing money. County officials dispatched about 200 volunteers and enlisted the help of police officers to get as accurate a count as possible.”
“A new front opened Wednesday in the local fight against homelessness and it does not include another shelter. Instead, the Cypress Landing apartments will provide 23 chronically homeless men and women with permanent homes - furnished apartments indistinguishable from one-bedrooms that rent nearby for about $500 a month. There are palm trees in the courtyard, microwave ovens in the kitchens, linens on the beds and towels in the bathrooms.”
“It will still be dark on Thursday morning when volunteers fan out across Pinellas as part of the county's attempt to count the homeless population. Every two years, Florida counties are required by law to take a census of the people living in their network of shelters, as well as on the streets and in the woods. During off years, officials make a rough estimate of the population, based on how many are in shelters or are identified as homeless by the school system.”
“The committees also were asked to balance the number of low-income and affluent kids among the schools. How did that turn out for the North Phase? Somewhere between a vague attempt and none at all. Under the proposals, upscale Heathrow and Wilson elementary schools would continue to have a fraction of low-income students compared with high-poverty schools such as Wicklow or Winter Springs elementaries.”
“Two years ago, the county's homeless tally of nearly 1 percent of the population was the highest per capita rate in Florida, a stunning statistic that left Pasco officials wondering about the veracity of the surveys in other counties. This year, officials are hopeful there will be an incremental decline, but they also know that panhandling bans in neighboring counties have pushed homeless people to new locations.”
“Remarkably, the EITC lifts more families out of poverty than any other federal policy. It kept an average of 6.1 million people out of poverty annually from 2009-2011, and reduced the effects of poverty for another 21.2 million people.”
“Lawmakers last week spent hours debating some of the major questions on implementation. The biggest is whether to expand Medicaid eligibility to add roughly 1 million people to the 3.3 million now enrolled in the federal-state program -- and that's not close to resolution. House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Matt Hudson, R-Naples, chastised the Obama administration for a lack of flexibility for its refusal to allow the state to consider a partial expansion.”
“The mobile medical van that serves the homeless and uninsured has given 800 flu shots since September, including 78 one day this week when the van was parked at the West Pasco courthouse.”
“The committee wrestled with balancing enrollments while also considering demographic makeup of the schools. But committee members balked at equalizing the percentage of students from low-income families at each school, saying too many students would have to be shifted to equalize the extremes of 77 percent poverty at Spring Lake versus 21 percent at Sabal Point. All of the recommended plans maintain that divide and even increased the percentage of low-income students at Spring Lake.”
“Local governments now can offer an additional homestead exemption to qualified low-income seniors age 65 and older who have, for at least 25 years, owned their permanent residence that is now worth less than $250,000. In order to take effect in 2013, local governments had to approve the exemption by last Friday. But in a 4-1 vote, Dunedin city commissioners rejected the exemption for now, saying they want to gather more information during summer budget talks on how the tax break would impact city revenues.”
“For most of us, the image of hunger is that of a small, visibly malnourished child, with an extended belly and bulging eyes, tragically suffering his incomprehensible destiny in a safely distant land. But we don’t have to look far to ‘see’ the face of hunger or to hear the stories of the hungry in our midst. Hunger hides, barely, if we only bother to look and pay attention, right here in our community, only minutes from the comfort of our own home.”
“Now we can have an honest conversation about the costs and benefits of adding more uninsured Floridians to the state's Medicaid rolls under a provision of the federal health reform law known as Obamacare. For after hyper-inflating the true cost, and getting pushback from legislative budget analysts, Gov. Rick Scott's administration finally released a more realistic cost estimate for helping poor people get health care. And it's a shocker. The new pricetag is about a fifth of what the governor has been leading us to believe.”
“Now that Gov. Rick Scott has agreed to use more realistic cost estimates for the expansion of Medicaid, the benefits should be even clearer. Expanding Medicaid to provide health care coverage to more than 1 million uninsured Floridians is the right choice, and the federal government will cover most all of the cost. Scott's revised 10-year cost to the state of $3 billion still may be high, but it is closer to reality than the $26 billion he cited earlier this week.”
“Bonita Springs City Attorney Audrey Vance will revise proposed operating standards for homeless shelters, attempting to protect the people of the city without infringing on the individual liberties of homeless people or setting unreasonable standards for shelter operators.”
“Seminole school-district officials have backed away from realigning elementary-school attendance zones based on equalizing the number of low-income students at each school. Complaints from members of committees redrawing attendance zones, as well as parents concerned that their children would be forced to switch schools, prompted district officials to "clarify" how the percentage of low-income students should figure into the mix.”
“More than 1,600 young children in Orange County's most impoverished neighborhoods are getting a chance for better dental health through a new fluoride-varnish initiative that could expand to the rest of the state.”
“The report raps states like Florida for doing relatively little to make the sealants available to low-income, school-aged children. In one benchmark, the state scored a ‘D’ for having sealant programs in fewer than 25 percent of its low-income schools.”
“For the past 16 years, Robert Marrero of Family Health Centers has made what could be considered house calls to the homeless. He often seems to be the liaison to people who are off the grid. They see him in a tiny storage room each Wednesday at All Souls Episcopal Church in North Fort Myers.”
“The state of Florida, which already has some of the tightest unemployment rules in the nation, may demand that all applicants have a working email account to receive jobless benefits. The provision, worker advocates say, would add a stumbling block to the application process. It would disproportionately affect low-income employees and those who have never established an email account or any other online presence, they said.”
“With showers available to the homeless scarce in southern Sarasota County, some people have taken to washing their clothes in the sinks of the Venice train depot. Near Englewood, North Port and Venice, homeless people and service providers say there is a desperate need for the basics -- laundry machines, a meal, payphones and showers -- to help a growing number of those in extreme poverty survive and find work.”
“Buddy Holshouser, of Rainbow Rehab, peruses the real estate listings looking for inexpensive fixer-uppers to turn around and resell. But unlike most house flippers, Rainbow Rehab aims to sell their houses at a lower price, particularly for low-income people wishing to own a home.”
“One in four American employees work in low-wage jobs. That's the highest percentage in the industrialized world by far. That's what's at stake in the ‘fiscal cliff’ debate. Roger needs help. We all need help. None of us can do it by ourselves.”
“When Miami-Dade commissioners voted unanimously this month to ban overnight camping at ‘county facility property,’ they opened the doors to debate about how police should apply the measure to homeless people.”
“Warm, Full, Safe also will provide food and donated goods for veterans who live at Budget Inn in Titusville and Operation Home Front, a Cocoa transitional home for female veterans and their children. Volunteers will visit five homeless camps near Port St. John and distribute food, gift cards, sleeping bags, tents and blankets to combat veterans who prefer to remain in the forest, Taylor said.”
“Every year on the longest night, the Hillsborough County Homeless Coalition gathers the community there to memorialize those who died alone with no address and unsure of where their next meals would come from.”
“Organizing and strategizing, under way for 10 years, has resulted in a business plan developed by SCORE. There is an educational curriculum for residents ranging from practical skills to childhood development and money management, and an outreach that has drawn input from the Hernando Youth Initiative, A New Generation, Grace World Outreach Church, Habitat for Humanity of Hernando County, the Mid-Florida Homeless Coalition and others.”
"The Helen Bentley Family Health Center, which has served low-income patients in Coconut Grove for more than 40 years, will lose federal funding next year. That funding represents about 17 percent of the nonprofit center’s operating budget. The center, at 3090 SW 37th Ave. in the West Grove, will continue to provide services but laid-off several support staff due to the reduction."
"It is expected that the debate about whether Florida should accept federal money to expand Medicaid will be influenced by the new numbers, the Tribune said. A passionate critic of the health care overhaul, Scott recently softened his tone in November shortly after the re-election of President Barack Obama. He has requested a meeting with federal officials such as U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the report said."
"The number of South Florida children living in poverty is on the rise, according a new report by the Census Bureau. Though the recession may officially be over, new figures show more children were living in poverty in 2011 than when the recession started in 2007. Statewide that increase was 44 percent. "
"Some of the state's poorest individuals, who today aren't considered poor enough under the state's current Medicaid system, would be eligible to receive health care -- and the federal government would give Florida billions of dollars to pay for it -- if Gov. Rick Scott and the Legislature agree on a plan from the White House this spring. 'There are a million workers in Florida who could benefit,' said Laura Goodhue, executive director of Florida Chain, a grass-roots health-care advocacy group out of South Florida, about provisions in the Affordable Care Act -- 'Obamacare' -- to expand Medicaid coverage in 2014."
"More and more Lake families with schoolchildren are finding themselves in shelters, hotels or doubled up with other families, according to an October state report. Last school year, officials counted 3,541 homeless students -- about four times more than were identified in the 2008-09 school year. Last year's numbers, which were released statewide for comparison this fall, show Lake has the fourth-highest homeless-student population in the state. But despite a decline in the unemployment rate, homelessness is only expected to grow."
“After moving dramatically in the wrong direction for three straight years, two leading economic indicators -- poverty and household income -- began to level off across Florida in 2011 and even improved in Sarasota County, according to new U.S. census data.”
“The center aims to provide safe housing, spiritual guidance and supportive services to single mothers who are striving to become self-sufficient and end their cycle of homelessness and poverty.”
“Metropolitan Ministries assists the poor, homeless and low-income residents of Tampa Bay. It feeds, clothes and shelters people, but also offers them something more - hope. On Thursday, Hintzman oversaw Metropolitan Ministries' Breakfast of Business Champions, a gathering of more than 300 local business leaders.”
“Spring Lake Elementary is overcrowded, but Sabal Point, Wekiva, Forest City and Bear Lake elementary schools have excess student desks. Sabal Point, which is farthest from Spring Lake, has the most room. The rezoning plans developed by the committee must balance the percentage of low-income students at each school.”
“As many as 6,000 children and their families are entitled to free lunches, waived fees, school supplies and other financial help, but aren't receiving it, according to school district estimates. Many of them don't fit the traditional picture of homelessness -- living outside, in parks or beneath overpasses -- but some do. Under an energetic new leader, the former principal of Alexander W. Dreyfoos Jr. School of the Arts, the Homeless Education Assistance Resource Team is trying to find these children -- and then help make sure they graduate.”
“Albelda’s report finds that children in households headed by a low-income worker are being raised with a minimum of parental supervision, lack of routine and often are being forced to assume responsibilities they are not mature enough to manage. The early onrush of adult responsibility often takes a toll on the kids’ health, education and development, particularly when they drop out of high school.”
“This makes it look as if the homeless problem has been eradicated - which makes voters and business owners happy - but the reality is not nearly as cut-and-dried. There are still homeless in Pinellas County. As many as 6,000 on a given day, according to the most recent estimates.”
“Florida also focused on preparing all students for college by becoming a national leader in giving low-income students access to Advanced Placement (AP) classes and encouraging them to take college entrance exams. Last year, SAT scores for Florida's African American and Hispanic students increased even as they stagnated in most of the country.”
“The tax-credit scholarship is one of Florida's five scholarships. It strives to give low-income students access to the same learning options now available to more affluent families, via a $4,335 scholarship. This program complements other choice programs, such as magnet and charter schools, and is built on the truism that students learn in different ways.”
“Local officials and homeless advocates say the method used to conduct the last count changed and affected both totals. The count is now conducted in shifts, allowing for greater reach and more accurate numbers. They say they are confident that the number of homeless veterans in Brevard has decreased and look forward to the next count in January to prove their point.”
“Haycock said Collier's student demographics are more acute than the rest of the country. Of Collier's 43,247 students, about 44 percent are Hispanic and 12 percent are black. About 60 percent of Collier's students are low-income. About 47 percent come from homes in which English isn't the first language.”
“To keep running the homeless shelter he set up nearly two years ago, Pinellas Sheriff Bob Gualtieri dipped into his budget this year, made cuts elsewhere, and came up with $1.6 million. But the process was painful, and one he would prefer not to repeat in 2014, he said Tuesday in a presentation to the Pinellas County Commission. A year from now, Gualtieri said he hopes to have enough private and grant funding for Safe Harbor to pull back on his agency's contribution.”
“Four local nonprofit agencies are joining forces to bring much-needed medical care, domestic-violence counseling and mental-health services to the Community Food & Outreach Center near downtown Orlando, officials will announce at a public unveiling today. ‘We're building a holistic campus of services -- that almost-mythical, one-stop location for families that are hungry and homeless or living in poverty,’ said Andrae Bailey, the outreach center's executive director.”
“There was a great increase in income inequality and an increase in the ratio of household debt to income; the low-income people and the middle class being increasingly hard pressed to borrow to maintain their life style. Meanwhile, the wealthy got richer and looked for more investment bidding up; investments that eventually blew up. In both 1929 and 2007 lack of financial regulation and monetary policy were factors in creating the bubble. Inequality was not just an incident of those collapses, but a source of it.”
“The number of Central Florida students like Elian who are considered homeless has risen for a fifth straight year. Last school year, thousands more children were found living in hotels or shelters or crammed into homes with other families or neighbors, according to new data from the Department of Education.”
“The Ministerial Association comprises more than 40 churches and faith organizations; they have come together each Thanksgiving for the past 12 years, Pfaff said, to help and serve the homeless in the community -- dishing up traditional holiday dinners.”
“More than 200 homeless men and needy families in the Clermont area were treated to an early Thanksgiving feast this week, thanks to two churches -- including one whose pastor was once homeless himself. The traditional dinner with all the fixings was served by volunteers and members of ASHER's Church and Cathedral of Power International Church on Hatteras Avenue, with some of the diners being bused in by New Beginnings, a Clermont faith-based organization that assists the homeless.”
“Last week, the Census Bureau reported a spike in poverty levels in a number of states, including California and Florida after applying what is called Supplemental Poverty Measure, an index designed to tabulate poverty differently than the official poverty measure. Under the SPM, a little less than one out five residents in Florida were classified as impoverished. If the SPM index is accurate, then despite a reported drop in the state's unemployment rate in November, Florida is now the third poorest state.”
“For girls, more dropped out of high school last school year in Leon County compared to the state average, and black girls are being expelled from school far more frequently than other races. Perhaps most sobering is the fact that 58 percent of single Leon County women with children live in poverty.”
“Both Weatherford and Gaetz have said they want the Legislature to decide whether the state or federal government should run the insurance exchange, and whether Florida should expand its Medicaid program to cover an estimated 800,000 to 1.3 million low-income individuals who currently earn too much to qualify. In upholding the law in June, the U.S. Supreme Court said states could not be compelled to expand Medicaid eligibility.”
“‘Lifeline started 25 years ago, providing a subsidy for low-income families to get a phone connection at home, but rules were loosened in 2005 that allowed wireless companies to get these dollars. Hence, the number of Lifeline subscribers has increased from 6.8 million in 2004 to 17.1 million in 2012, according to the Federal Communications Commission.”
“Students from the University of Central Florida, Rollins College, Valencia College and Florida A&M University joined advocates for the poor and homeless Friday morning in a march through the streets of downtown Orlando.”
“In the year before welfare reform, 4.7 million Americans received assistance from the program. Today, only 2 million receive assistance from TANF. When TANF was created, 68 percent of families with children in poverty received welfare. Today, only 27 percent get it. Low-income entitlement spending has increased, but it would've increased under any president.”
“There are 4 million children in Florida; 2 million reside in families designated as low income to poor. Florida ranks fourth from the bottom nationwide in the proportion of uninsured kids and third in raw numbers. Whatever the correct statistic, Florida continues a shameful record for children's health care and critical human services.”
“The savage attack on 65-year-old Ronald Poppo made national headlines, and imprinted itself on our consciousness. Suddenly everyone was aware of the sad life of this chronically homeless man. We at the Homeless Trust were aware of it, too. Our outreach teams had engaged him on numerous occasions to no avail. Poppo was among the 800 or so homeless persons who remain on our streets today. We don’t need a tragic incident to remind us that it is 800 too many; that one in three sleeping on our streets are chronic homeless.”
“The number of South Floridians on food stamps continued to climb in October, even in Broward County, where 2,000 more people were added to the rolls despite a September decline that had been the first drop in more than five years, state officials said.”
“Casillas and Leslie Hahn, who coaches other teachers on instructional strategies, said they think their school's test scores will continue to rise, despite growing poverty in the west Riverside neighborhood. About 84 percent of students are from low income families, a figure that has risen about 10 percent since 2008, Casillas said.”
“The Chapman Partnership recently added a new 44-bed dormitory to its downtown Miami homeless assistance center. The new space is needed to serve a growing number of homeless families, according to the nonprofit partnership, which receives a combination of Miami-Dade County and private funding to serve homeless people.”
“With the Jacksonville area facing the nation's worst tuberculosis outbreak in 20 years, health workers in Central Florida are about to launch an ambitious program to test homeless residents here for the contagious disease.”
“This simple concept has been working wonders for years: Pave the road to success for low-income and at-risk youth by promising to pay for college. Ensure that commitment with a student's pledge to keep up good grades, obey the law and join a mentoring program. Take Stock in Children does exactly as its name implies, investing in the next generation of American citizens.”
“The Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County is leading a broad effort to fundamentally retool how local governments and private agencies serve the homeless population. The goal is to break down the silo mentality so that providers can address the problem in a comprehensive way - from better directing the scarce pot of housing funds to figuring out how to provide wraparound services to enable many without a permanent home to function more normally in society.”
“The state port is exceeding federal requirements on the number of low-income residents or businesses working to restore and expand the West Pier, a port news release says.”
“Take Stock in Children guarantees low-income and at-risk students a four-year college education at a Florida public school if they sign a contract promising to maintain good grades, stay drug- and crime-free and meet with a mentor on a regular basis. On Monday, community leaders involved with the program officially announced that they have formed their own nonprofit organization in the hopes that they can raise more money to sponsor more students.”
“Take Stock in Children began in Florida in 1995, and the program has been in Manatee County for almost that long. The program provides mentors to low-income and at-risk students, who sign contracts saying they will keep their grades up and stay drug-free to keep tuition scholarships. Many participants are the first in their families to attend college or high school.”
“CareerEdge of Florida Inc, in partnership with the Manatee Community Federal Credit Union and Enterprise Car Sales, has developed a new affordable car purchase program for low-income workers in Manatee County.”
“But Fyfe isn't focused on the material things inside HEP West - a new $3 million transitional apartment complex aimed at rehabilitating Afghanistan and Iraq war veterans who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. Rather, Fyfe is speaking excitedly about the onsite case managers and communal atmosphere that will steer life for these young men and women who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.”
“Any property owner who wants to build a homeless shelter in Bonita Springs will have to gain the support of a City Council supermajority, if regulations being considered by the community's planning board are adopted in coming months.”
“Funding for subsidized child care should be based on a region's poverty levels, the number of children younger than five and the number who fall into ‘must serve’ categories, local child care providers and advocates told a state early learning leader on Thursday.”
“As many as 2,800 homeless people live in Lee County, according to estimates. The first of the quarterly clinics was timed with World Homeless Day, which aims to draw awareness to the local needs of homeless people. The clinics are supported with about $1,000 from the Lee County Homeless Coalition and Rotary Club of South Fort Myers, Mercado said.”
“Last May, The Children's Hunger Project started in co-founder Sam Jordan's kitchen in Melbourne and began packing meals for 27 impoverished students at Riviera Elementary in Palm Bay. The fast-growing non-profit now feeds about 500 kids who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches at a dozen elementary schools.”
“Broward commissioners are turning first to the homeless, hoping to get enough of them out of jail beds so people suspected of more dangerous crimes can have them. Though the jail doesn't keep count of how many inmates are homeless, the Sun Sentinel found 10,108 people from 2009 to mid-2012 were booked into jail with no home address listed, or with addresses listed as ‘homeless’ or ‘at large.’”
“A Sun Sentinel analysis of jail bookings from 2009 to June of this year found the homeless take up jail space routinely, making up about 5 percent of the jail bookings. Many remain behind bars because they can't afford the low bonds for minor crimes that allow most other arrested people to go home.”
“The Pinellas County school district has repeatedly rejected calls from a faith-based alliance to change the way reading instruction is delivered in high-poverty elementary schools.”
“Leaders of Osceola County charities, churches, schools, businesses and government will come together at a forum on homeless families Thursday at Florida Hospital Celebration Health. The event is an update on the groups' considerable progress during the past year in feeding, clothing and sometimes housing homeless children -- as well as a discussion of unmet needs.”
“The clients, many of them homeless, but not all, and whose numbers reached 7,000 last year in Manatee County, are coming for free services supplied by 154 volunteers.”
“Since school started, 19 mothers with school-age children have come to the Center of Hope in Venice. All were homeless, living out of their cars at best. Theirs are the faces the tourists and snowbirds never see. Most of them got the help they needed, because what the Center of Hope on East Venice Avenue does for the homeless and poor in South Sarasota County is pretty impressive.”
“A teacher leader would have a longer contract year than a traditional teacher and work as a coach to other teachers who are not ranked ‘highly effective.’ The teacher leader would receive $10,000 in addition to his or her salary. Highly effective teachers who enter struggling and high poverty schools to teach high-demand subjects such as math, science or special education could receive a $3,000 bonus.”
“Until the rebirth of Anthony House, there were only 27 rooms set aside for ‘intact’ homeless families -- those with a mom, dad and children -- in all of Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. None was bigger than 8 feet by 10 feet. All had communal bathrooms and were at least 40 years old.”
“The 5.5-square-mile area south of downtown didn't have a library until 2002. A post office and supermarket didn't arrive until 2005. And a credit union finally followed in 2009. Though $100 million in government grants flowed through the poverty-stricken area between 1998 and 2008, the enclave remains stuffed with crumbling buildings, vacant homes and struggling businesses. City and community leaders have made repeated pledges to help improve it, but change has been hard.”
“Drug testing Florida's welfare recipients remains politically popular, if controversial. Too bad the state is undermining one of Gov. Rick Scott's signature initiatives in its execution. Forcing kidney patients to urinate through a catheter to prove they're drug-free isn't exactly a selling point.But, that's just one example of the extremes the state's drug-testing efforts have taken to make sure new applicants for welfare assistance aren't abusing government aid.”
“A charity for the homeless that began in Pinellas County almost five years ago has, like its clientele, never known exactly where its next pay check would come from. The county has helped fund the program, as have some cities, but the process is informal and each year's budget season brings renewed uncertainty. That has finally lessened this year, following a decision by County Administrator Bob LaSala to embrace Pinellas Hope as a fixture in the region's efforts to combat homelessness.”
“A federal farm bill, HR 6083, which could come to a vote as early as the end of this month, would cut the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as the Food Stamp Program) by $16.5 billion during the next decade, eliminating food assistance to 2 million to 3 million people, mostly low-income working families with children and senior citizens.”
“Programs like Feeding Children Everywhere, based in Sanford, help make sure students are prepared to be educated. As many studies have shown, proper nutrition helps with learning. If a student comes to school hungry, his focus and concentration are compromised, said Trey Csar, president of the Jacksonville Public Education Fund. Poverty is one of the biggest challenges urban school districts face, Csar said. Kids who are hungry throughout the day are focused on things other than learning.”
“One in every five adults in Florida can't afford to see a dentist, researchers say, and a 2011 report ranked the state the worst in the nation for providing dental care to low-income kids. But in Central Florida, at least, the picture is starting to brighten. On Friday, elected officials, health professionals and donors gathered in Sanford to celebrate a permanent dental clinic that will start taking low-income, uninsured patients in October.”
“Nearly half of Florida children living below the federal poverty level were overweight or obese, according to National Survey for Children's Health data from 2007. In Parramore, 37 percent of children are obese, according to a 2006 survey by the Health Council of East Central Florida. Programs to help feed children in low-income areas such as Parramore can contribute to the problem. Free or reduced-price lunches at schools often have low nutritional standards and few options for fresh fruits and vegetables, said Shawna Kelsch, director of a local program called Reduce Obesity in Central Florida Kids.”
“Those two segments of the homeless population - families with children, and unaccompanied youth - will get a lot more attention in coming months after being named top priorities of the Homeless Leadership Board, a new group granted oversight of services and federal funding for the county's homeless . While the group may be new, its members are not new to the issue of homelessness. Many of them were already part of two groups - the Pinellas County Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Leadership Network - which merged in January in response to the 2009 Hearth Act.”
“The Florida Department of Children and Families has approved a change that would end public-assistance benefits for people who don’t report new addresses, drawing concerns that some low-income residents could unnecessarily lose food and medical aid.”
“The tools of knowledge will be within easier reach for low-income kids living in a 2-square-mile swath of Delray Beach as the city launches its first cloud of wireless Internet for a residential area. Starting next month, up to 852 families living in the range of this free Wi-Fi also will be eligible for free reconditioned personal computers. It's all part of a city-powered effort to boost access to knowledge that has involved everyone from elementary-age children to Florida Power & Light officials.”
“For a city that prides itself on appearing enlightened, Sarasota could do better than the backward approach it takes in dealing with its homeless population. The latest thrust comes from the City Commission, which has asked its attorney to concoct an ironclad trespassing policy that will once and for all clear the ‘bums’ from downtown.”
“It was one of Florida Gov. Rick Scott's headline-grabbing campaign vows: Welfare recipients would have to pass a drug test to make sure addicts weren't receiving Floridians' tax dollars. But data now available from the state show that when a federal court temporarily suspended the law, the state had to pay out thousands of dollars to people regardless of whether they even took or passed a drug test.”
“Last week, Boynton Beach commissioners took one of the city's first swipes at the root of the problem. They voted to join at least 17 other Palm Beach County cities that offer to drive willing homeless people to a new resource center in West Palm Beach. From there, nonprofit workers at the Senator Philip D. Lewis Center offer support and shelter. Property taxes from the county's residents pay for most of the center's $4 million budget.”
“While the city spent more than $2.7 million on landscaping work downtown and along Bayshore Boulevard ahead of the convention, low-income areas were largely ignored, Benjamin said.”
“Collier, a case manager for the nonprofit Mental Health Care of Tampa, spends her days talking to homeless people on the streets and in parks and woods. Normally, she refers people to services and ultimately helps get some into apartments. Starting Monday, her message changed focus: How to stay safe during the RNC. Part of a plan headed by the Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County, Collier and about 10 of her co-workers hit the streets armed with maps and options.”
“Board members of Hillsborough's leading children's agency signed off on a $20.4 million plan that for the first time requires local nonprofits to compete for contracts to provide such services as mentoring for pregnant teens and education for low-income migrant families.”
“Serving 100 agencies and pantries that distribute food to 60,000 people monthly, the Food Bank of Manatee was 85 percent empty on Wednesday. ‘This is something that is a major emergency in Manatee County,’ Whitmore said. The hunger epidemic affects families across the county, including between 2,000 and 3,000 school children who are homeless, Aranibar said.”
“Florida's fast-growing Medicaid program -- which cares for the state's impoverished children and for most senior citizens in nursing homes -- would lose about a third of its federal money under budget plans embraced by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his running mate, Paul Ryan.”
“The Bonita Springs Local Planning Agency asked interested city residents to appear at a workshop Tuesday night and provide feedback on planned changes to city codes that regulate homeless shelters. But many of the 40 residents who attended the workshop instead criticized the process, and some argued that the city shouldn't be regulating homeless shelters at all.”
“Just last year, Kiwanis launched an initiative to boost homeless children through an event entitled Christmas in August. Ten days ago, the club treated some 460 homeless students enrolled in Manatee County schools to free haircuts, dental and medical examinations, gift cards, backpacks and more.”
“When politicians and protestors descend on downtown streets for the Republican National Convention, help will be ready for those who call the streets home. Homeless advocates are making plans, including opening doors throughout the day at the Salvation Army on Florida Avenue, and providing homeless people a place to stow their belongings.”
“[S]ome Clearwater city officials blame ineffectiveness by existing programs for their decision to pass new laws targeting the homeless population and for their attempt to steer the homeless to Safe Harbor, a jail-diversion shelter outside of the city. The city and a consultant it hired advocate a ‘one-stop shop’ approach to services for the homeless, rather than the historical model of scattered organizations. They also criticize charities' street feedings that don't offer services needed to steer the homeless toward self-sufficiency.”
“‘These supplies mean so much to our schools and to the students,’ said Orange County school Superintendent Barbara Jenkins. ‘We ended last school year with nearly 5,000 students whose families were homeless, and that number will likely climb in the coming school year. Other families are struggling to make ends meet, so school supplies can't be their priority.’”
“In 2009, IBM helped the New York City Department of Homeless Services (DHS) deploy handheld devices that helped eliminate a cumbersome paper-based process that checked the availability of apartments for homeless clients. Previously, field inspectors filled out multiple paper forms, some of which would take days to be entered into a database. The new devices allow the inspectors to share real time data about the potential residences.”
“In recent months city leaders, clamping down on urban ‘enablers’ of the homeless, have assailed the free handouts and pushed to shift feedings to central cafeterias and shelters. ‘No one has ever graduated’ from the streets ‘because they were fed on a street corner,’ said Robert Marbut, Clearwater's homelessness consultant. ‘Food alone does not get you out of homelessness.’”
“The board's discussion followed a final vote Thursday night by the Clearwater City Council on several new laws strengthening the city's homeless crackdown. The five council members approved them unanimously. Perhaps the most severe of the new laws bans sitting or lying down on public sidewalks and rights of way on Clearwater Beach, downtown and in the nearby East Gateway neighborhood, home to most of the city's social services.”
“‘No one pays anything at Farm Share,’ Robbins said. ‘We serve the poorest of the poor so we want to be sure that everyone has access to fresh produce.’ In Miami-Dade County alone, Farm Share serves about 300 social service agencies, providing food to more than 454,000 low-income households.”
“The food stamp program was designed as a lifeline, one that should not be so easily cut. The statistics regarding food stamps and poverty in Florida keep going in the wrong direction. Poverty among people 18 and under in South Florida increased 16 percent in the past five years, nearly 15,000 more poor kids in Broward and Palm Beach counties.”
“Our leaders' stance in Florida is all the more concerning when you consider that almost 55 percent of Floridians without health insurance earn just more than 133 percent of the poverty level (roughly $22,000 for a family of four). These are the very people who need a health-care information exchange, so they can find coverage, and not rely on bake sales to get coverage when husbands get brain cancer and children need new kidneys.”
“The proposed bans are the newest measures of the city's homeless crackdown, which began earlier this year when city leaders discussed discouraging donations to the St. Vincent de Paul soup kitchen. Last month, the city welded shut park restrooms and turned off public water and power at parks frequented by the homeless.”
“To date, he has signed up some 450 retailers and service businesses. If a visitor to the website orders from one of those outlets, Walker is paid 2 percent to 4 percent by the company. He turns all of those earnings over to such organizations as Devereux Kids and several ministries that provide food and meals to the homeless.”
“More than 1,000 homeless men and women in Broward and Palm Beach counties will get free one-way rides out of town this year, thanks to taxpayer-funded family reunification programs. The chance for a fresh start can be a life-changer for those who qualify, but at a combined cost of $135,000, the busing programs barely put a dent in the area's homeless problem. The two counties have an estimated 7,000 homeless, a number that is growing because of the faltering economy, experts say.”
“This city's proposed ban on public sitting across large swaths of the community landed with a thud over the weekend, drawing slams from residents who said the move was too heavy-handed toward the homeless.”
"This city could soon outlaw a harrowing crime: sitting.
Sitting or lying down on sidewalks or other public rights of way on Clearwater Beach, downtown or in the East Gateway neighborhood could mean a $500 fine, 60 days in jail or both. The sitting ban is among a flurry of new ordinances the City Council will consider Monday as part of its crackdown on homeless people."
"A fundamental role for government is to address citizen needs that are not being met through our market economy. Today about 21 percent, or 4 million citizens, of the state of Florida do not have health insurance. Nationally, 16 percent are uninsured. Statistically, Florida is ranked just behind Texas as having the highest percentage of uninsured citizens."
"Those who work with Space Coast seniors hope an emphasis on nutrition-related programs, from occasional on-site farmers markets to dietary advice, will help vulnerable residents steer clear of malnutrition. They're especially concerned about low-income residents; those with undetected, age-related problems that reduce their ability to absorb nutrients; and seniors lacking regular contact with family or friends."
"Hiawassee Elementary was Orange's showcase school this year for bringing its grade up to an A from last year's C. The school qualifies for federal Title I funding because it has large numbers of students who are just learning English or come from low-income families."
"Shocked by the Causeway Cannibal case, many in Congress are growing alarmed by the frequency and severity of beatings of homeless people across the nation. And some looked to Broward County on Tuesday for ways to stop it."
"His report warned that 3,000 people in the last two years may have had close contact with contagious people at Jacksonville's homeless shelters, an outpatient mental health clinic and area jails. However, only 253 people had been located and screened for tuberculosis, and a third of them tested positive for tuberculosis exposure, Luo wrote."
"Scott and other Republican leaders were still weighing their options Friday in light of the Supreme Court's ruling but appeared to be leaning against a wide-scale expansion of Medicaid to cover more of Florida's low-income families."
"In Central Florida, and across this nation, families find themselves struggling in poverty and unable to sustain themselves in record numbers. The sad truth is that thousands of families in our community have no option left but to live day to day in low-rent motels, in their cars or, worse yet, in camps in the woods or on the streets of our community."
"'We have decided this is nothing more than an attack on the homeless,' said Cononie. 'We're going to bring attention to the fact this commission hates the homeless. We're going to pay hardball this time. Hopefully she'll come out and meet the homeless and realize she made a mistake.'"
"'The state has the highest rate of poverty, the highest rate of children living in single parent households, the lowest average life expectancy, and the highest rate of births among teenagers.' Other states listed among the 'least' peaceful states in the country were South Carolina (9th), Arkansas (8th), Texas (7th), Missouri (6th), Arizona (5th), Florida (4th), Nevada (3rd), Tennessee (2nd) and Louisiana (1st)."
"Fewer low-income children across the country received free or discounted meals during the 2011 summer break than a year earlier, despite steady increases nationwide in the number of children dependent on subsidized meals during the school year, according to a study released this month."
"Don't look for me to help elect Mitt Romney president, but those who use the presidential election as a partisan guide to private learning options for low-income children are playing their own brand of education politics."
"With quivering voices and a few nervous smiles, six former homeless teens told Gov. Rick Scott and more than 300 other community leaders Wednesday about what led them to sleep on friends' sofas, park benches and in shelters."
"Manatee County residents voted on a resolution in 1990. Resolution R-90-16 stated that the tax monies would fund the development and operation of continuing programs for the prevention and treatment of Manatee County's neglected, abused or at-risk children and to provide essential and necessary programs to serve children of low-income families."
"The number of Florida's children living in poverty swelled 35 percent from 2006 to 2010 -- an increase that especially hurt black and Hispanic youth -- a new report shows. Using the most recent statistics available, the report found that nearly one in every four Florida children, or about 924,000 collectively, now lives below the federal poverty line."
"A potential wage-theft ordinance, which would help low-income workers cheated out of pay, will get an initial hearing by the Broward County Commission on Tuesday. 'These are low-wage workers. They are struggling enough as it is. [An ordinance] is the right thing to do for people,' said Vice Mayor Kristin Jacobs, who is making the motion to draft an ordinance."
"Destiny Raynor is only 15, but she can already tell you what's wrong with the would-be safety net of homeless services in Central Florida. Last year, after her parents' businesses failed and the family of six ended up living in a home with no electricity or running water, they looked at homeless shelters in Seminole County -- only to find that the family would have to split up."
"That's because for years, the federally funded feeding program -- which offers a free breakfast, lunch or afternoon snack to anyone 18 or younger -- has reached only a fraction of the children who live in poverty. Last year, the estimate was about 14 percent."
""At the moment, they're working pro bono on two major community projects: the food bank's new $15 million headquarters and a new 250-bed men's facility at Orlando's Coalition for the Homeless. Together, the projects represent about $400,000 worth of work.
"Another factor in the continued record number of food stamp recipients is that many of the new jobs in the state pay relatively little, especially compared with those lost during the recession, Vitner said. Families may need the food stamps to supplement low wages."
"Palm Beach County's homeless, who depend on a hodgepodge of charities for assistance, will soon have a central destination for aid, including case managers to help them find permanent housing quickly."
"That's the only way Mitchell can explain what happened the morning after Pasco County commissioners gave the church a mandate to close its homeless shelter within a year."
"Osceola County, by some measures the poorest in Central Florida, officially has 2,200 public-school children who are homeless, although the actual number may be twice that. They live in aging, rent-by-the-week motel complexes along the U.S. Highway 192 tourist corridor, doubled up with friends and relatives, or in cars and travel trailers."
"Bonita Springs city staff has put together a task force to address homeless shelter issues in the city, following a controversy over a proposed St. Matthew's House shelter."
"After several months of delays, an area ministry has finally started renovating an abandoned former church it plans to use as a center to help the rising number of homeless and jobless people in south Lake."
"'We try to get them in as early as possible to see what a school district of high poverty looks like - what kinds of things the kids do, what kinds of needs they have - before they ever come to us as student-teachers,' Aldine Superintendent Wanda Bamberg said."
"Many child advocates say the state's children are still struggling to keep from falling through the cracks in the state's education, health-care and public-safety systems, and that Florida simply isn't doing enough."
"Pinellas County's school administrators have given what they hope is that final answer to a faith-based group seeking educators' buy-in to change the way core reading instruction is delivered in high-poverty schools."
"A federally mandated Point-In-Time Count, a survey conducted nationwide to get a snapshot of how many people are homeless on any given day, was conducted in Tallahassee on Jan. 30. On that day, 738 people reported being homeless compared to 683 people in the 2011 report."
"As St. Matthew's House representatives work to get their development order approved for a homeless shelter in Bonita Springs, city residents and officials remain vigilant and concerned about the potential impact on the community."
"The Big Bend Homeless Coalition released details today from its 2012 Report on Homelessness in Leon County and it shows overall homelessness has increased compared to last year. In addition, advocates are serving more homeless children and African Americans compared to 2011."
"Getting a discounted monthly bus pass in Palm Beach County requires proving you're legally in the United States. But a transportation advocate for the disadvantaged says the Palm Tran policy puts a significant burden on undocumented workers who are often living at the poverty level."
"Still, the clients keep coming and 'the staff is overwhelmed,' said Kathleen Thomsen, regional development director. 'People who can't get help can become homeless, or kids remain in stressful situations. That can destabilize the community.'"
"'The system designed to rescue these children often further victimizes them and can set them up for a very hard life,' said Peter Samuelson, president of First Star. Kids aging out of the foster-care system are more likely to be high-school dropouts, impoverished, imprisoned or homeless. Florida was one of 10 states to earn an F, while 15 others earned A's."
"Tuesday morning, Pasco commissioners honored two groups, Artists for Humanity and the Leadership Pasco Class of 2012, for their separate attempts to benefit homeless veterans and to finance a mobile medical van providing health care to the homeless."
"The Central Florida Commission on Homelessness -- the high-powered public-private partnership that vowed to end the region's homeless problem by 2018 -- may be dissolved and its mission turned over to the local United Way."
"For more than four decades, Miami-Dade County officials have managed Head Start, the storied preschool program for children from low-income families. But the county now wants out — and 'generous' salaries are partly to blame. On average, Miami-Dade paid its Head Start teachers $76,860 in salary and fringe benefits in 2011, county records show."
"Instead -- thanks to a group of local businesses, nonprofits and individuals -- the homeless middle-school student will attend a free 10-week summer camp offering her swimming, socializing, arts and crafts and field trips, plus two meals a day. Her mother and stepfather, struggling to find jobs, also can get free financial counseling through the effort."
"Price was one of several homeless people who congregated Wednesday afternoon in Stranahan Park who hadn't heard of the city commission's action the previous evening. The measure was passed unanimously despite criticism from about a dozen homeless advocates who said the law seeks to punish the needy and violates their right to free speech."
"Young offenders in Lake who receive a civil citation must reimburse victims for any financial losses and must perform community service, which has included painting trash bins and working in a thrift store that benefits homeless veterans. Participants also must write a 'letter of appreciation' to the officer who directed them to the program."
"The county's 10-year plan, created by its homeless advisory board in 2008, is gaining momentum with the scheduled July 2 opening of the Sen. Philip D. Lewis Center, the county's first homeless resource center."
"Donaldson captured the exchange on video about a year ago. It may be the last known recorded image of Romo, the scrawny, sometimes-homeless man who, despite his living conditions, insisted he was 'a very happy person.'"
"In addition to adding more transitional beds for homeless veterans, the money will allow for matching grants to veterans organizations for the annual Stand Down - a one-day event where needy veterans receive medical and dental help, as well as clothing assistance and other services."
"Poverty, unemployment, substance abuse and single parenthood all correlate with high rates of neglect or abuse, said Laura Fleischman, the report's lead researcher. Most often, the abuse was rooted in drug use or domestic violence that endangered a child in the home."
"On Tuesday night, St. Matthew's House filed its development order with the city. That means if the order is deemed sufficient within 30 days, the path for a homeless shelter on Old 41 would be clear."
"Former U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez wants Central Florida leaders to consider such a levy for Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties as a way to help leverage larger federal homeless funding that has been credited with curbing the problem in South Florida."
"As a community, we simply cannot accept the sentiment of many who say the homeless issue cannot be solved. And the regional commission is the key to coming up with meaningful solutions over the next few years."
"Unfortunately, it doesn't -- which is why we're more of a national joke.
We make more headlines for imprisoning the homeless -- and for the number of schoolchildren who sleep in cars -- than we do for effectively dealing with the problems created by our low-wage economy."
"Like those fortunate to have jobs, homeless people enjoy the companionship of a pet. However, Central Florida's homeless often struggle to find a meal for themselves, let alone pet food for Rover."
"All these spots seem to be integrated into the Collier County community, but it wasn't always that way. The homeless shelter faced intense public backlash when it opened in East Naples a quarter-century ago, much like the controversy that has whipped through Bonita Springs since the nonprofit began looking to expand there two years ago."
"Not very many in public life have ever been homeless, but Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore knows first-hand how it feels. As a teenager in Holmes Beach, she was unable to remain with alcoholic parents and found herself without shelter."
"Bill Sharpe didn't want to wait and see how homeless people would fare under a new panhandling ban. When the restrictions went into effect, he started a newspaper they could sell on the streets to make money."
"Collier County, which had held the No. 1 spot in 2010 and 2011, is now ranked fourth in the state for those health outcomes, a downgrade possibly related to some worsening poverty measures and a recent change in scoring methods in the study."
"A 2010 report by the Southern Poverty Law Center analyzed the high rate of suspension among black males in middle school. It found 'concerns about lost instructional time as well as other possible harmful side effects.' It said there were 'consistent findings that African-American and Latino youth are over-represented in school suspensions and that the increased use of suspension has been largest for poor minority children.'"
"Now, even as the city struggles to craft a legally defensible ordinance to uproot a daily congregation of homeless in Stranahan Park, members of the Woman's Club may have dug up another solution: flowers."
"The Renaissance Community Center, a 4,800 square-foot building on Virginia Street, looks nothing like it did before it was gutted and made into a resource for the city's homeless.
The graffiti is gone. The floor, no longer peppered with debris and dirt, is safe to walk on and the exterior walls aren't covered with chipped paint and rust."
"Since the passage of the 1 percent tax on high-end eateries nearly two decades ago, the number of homeless people living on Miami's streets has plummeted from 8,000 to about 800, and the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust has become the envy of homeless agencies throughout the state."
"Managed by The Center for Drug-Free Living, Operation Home Front is a transitional housing complex for homeless female veterans. It is awaiting final inspection from the Department of Veterans Affairs."
"Today marks another important step in this community's proactive efforts to address the needs of a growing homeless population with the ceremonial ribbon-cutting for the Renaissance Community Center on Virginia Street."
"Justices will weigh whether Congress overstepped its authority when it approved eligibility changes that would allow millions of low-income adults to start qualifying for Medicaid. If states don't go along with the expansion, they risk losing billions of dollars in federal money that plays a vital role in paying for current Medicaid services."
"About 1,000 homeless people are expected at First Baptist Church of Orlando on Friday for a one-stop opportunity to get food, clothing, showers and a long list of critical services. The event, Project Homeless Connect, is being coordinated by the nonprofit Homeless Services Network but paid for by the church, which collected a record $5.6 million in pledges last year to help homeless children and families."
"Faced with vocal opposition from residents who don't want a homeless shelter in their neighborhood, Bonita Springs leaders are taking steps to temporarily prevent the construction of homeless shelters everywhere in the city."
"Many took advantage of the free haircuts and manicures, courtesy of volunteers from local salons. David Negley, 60, said he was glad to be getting his long gray locks cut. He said he has been homeless for 11 years, mostly in Key West, after a divorce in Connecticut. He said he usually sleeps on the streets and lives on food stamps, but recently found a bed at the Salvation Army in West Palm Beach."
"Homeless families that come to Project Homeless Connect in Delray Beach on Friday will leave with a new haircut, clothing, food and connections, thanks to two Palm Beach County groups that support the homeless."
"Orlando's now-cheaper home prices have made it one of the most affordable housing markets in the U.S., but don't tell that to the area's minimum-wage earners. Like other metro areas in the state, Orlando is not affordable for renters on the bottom financial rung of the local workforce, according to a new study released Tuesday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Florida was the 15th-most-expensive rental market, given starting salaries in the state."
"At a church in Kissimmee on Tuesday, more than 60 volunteers formed an assembly line to divvy up $10,000 worth of groceries into individual shopping bags. The food's destination? Osceola County schools whose pantries will help ensure homeless students don't go hungry during spring break next week."
"As part of an announcement of competitive grants by federal housing officials Tuesday, Pasco County stands to receive $800,000 for a new Zephyrhills homeless facility, two new sets of apartment vouchers and a drug treatment program. The money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development would pay for five Pasco programs that could serve more than 50 homeless people or families next year."
"[Adell Erozer,] the executive director of the Community Coalition on Homelessness was absorbed by disturbing numbers on a printout lying on a work table at the Bill Galvano One Stop Center. It showed the Florida Legislature's brutal handiwork on the budget for the Department of Children and Families Homeless Programs."
"Two-dozen Bonita Springs residents told the Bonita Springs City Council tonight they don't want St. Matthew's House to build a homeless shelter next to Bonita Springs Charter School. They filled City Hall, leaving standing room only in council chambers and spilling to an overflow room."
"While St. Matthew's House continues to look for a place to build another homeless shelter, Bonita Springs Mayor Ben Nelson will ask the rest of the City Council on Wednesday night to start discussing the creation of standards for the operation of homeless shelters."
"Tommila notified the Lee County School District of their new address. Through its program for homeless students, a social worker has helped provide clothes and shoes for the children in the past. The family moved from St. Petersburg in 2010. Tommila has been working full time at a dollar store but it wasn't enough to provide stability."
"Here in Lake County the number of homeless students has skyrocketed, from 122 in 2005 to more than 2,600 this school year. It’s the largest increase in hard hit Florida and echoes the rising numbers seen nationwide as well. Some of those children are living with their parents in a friend’s or relative’s house. Others are in shelters or motels like Zach. Some with nowhere else to turn take refuge in the woods."
"More than 18,000 emergency patients sick enough to need hospitalization would have been denied coverage of emergency care had they been Medicaid patients living in Washington State. However, since these patients live in Oregon, they were examined in the emergency department and then hospitalized."
"'Poverty is all over the City of Miami. We have more poverty here than in 2000.' Nearly 1,000 communities across the country faced a second year of cuts -- some of them steeper than ever -- in the block grant money handed out by the federal housing agency. More than 200 received more money."
"It's worth noting that living in a distressed neighborhood doesn't mean that all of the children are living in poverty, she said. That's because a distressed subdivision or multifamily complex could be in the same general neighborhood as a wealthy one. In Florida, 341,000 children reside in neighborhoods where at least 30 percent of the residents are impoverished."
"The biggest homeless shelter in Central Florida broke ground on a 'historic' new 250-bed men's facility Friday after a decade of dreams, delays and disagreements. The new two-story, 33,000-square-foot facility at the nonprofit Coalition for the Homeless near downtown Orlando is expected to take 13 months to build and will use $6.6 million in federal grants already approved by Orange County and the city of Orlando."
"Since the economy collapsed in 2008, Florida’s student population has become poorer each year — with almost all school districts in the state experiencing spikes in the number of kids who qualify for subsidized meals. Children have become homeless at alarming numbers as well."
While many educators and many governors celebrated, congressional Republicans accused Obama of executive overreach, and education and civil-rights groups questioned if schools would be getting a pass on aggressively helping poor and minority children -- the kids the 2002 law was primarily designed to help."
"There’s no discounting the intractable issue of homelessness. The One Stop Center served more than 6,500 people last year, though not all were homeless."
"The theory: Kim Black, president of the Pinellas teachers union, suggested a flood of low-income students weighed down Pinellas' progress. She wondered whether the district adjusted quickly enough to more challenging demographics. 'It hasn't been this bad here in years," she said of the numbers of kids in poverty.'"
"Hillsborough is finally coming to terms with having the most homeless of any county in the state. A group of public officials and business leaders is looking at ways to serve the chronically homeless by providing them with temporary housing and a host of other services, from job training to substance abuse counseling"
"Their family of three is being featured in the debut edition of a DCF Facebook campaign called 'Homeless 2 Home' -- created after staffer Carrie Hoeppner triggered an outpouring of help when she posted on her personal Facebook page about a homeless family facing Christmas without food. "
"County commissioners Thursday decided to direct county staffers to join with their Bradenton counterparts and local civic activists in an effort to more effectively deal with the homeless."
"At least 208 homeless people stayed a total of 115 nights at a shelter last year, according to data provided to Manatee County by 16 service providers, a county official said.
Community leaders and county officials are discussing plans to build a new shelter to serve the homeless and those at risk of becoming homeless, an effort they said will require the help of the entire community, including business owners."
"The move will halt financing to 19 of Planned Parenthood's 83 affiliates, which received nearly $700,000 from the Komen foundation last year and have been receiving similar grants since at least 2005. Planned Parenthood contends that the Komen foundation is yielding to longstanding pressure from anti-abortion groups, which Komen denies."
"At a campaign rally in Florida Monday evening, Mitt Romney told the crowd: 'We will never go after Medicare and Social Security.' Romney's remark is already causing some conservatives to despair that he is throwing entitlement reform under the bus in order to pander to seniors."
"On Friday in Liberty City, more than 500 students at Holmes Elementary received their very own, green-and-white laptops. Students can use them in class and take them home. The idea is that their curiosity will spark learning in new ways."
"But some perspective is in order. The rankings do not factor in a district’s size, progress or demographics, or consider graduation rates, Advanced Placement outcomes or other educational benchmarks like overall student progress. School superintendents from around the state justifiably cried foul over the rankings, especially those districts with high numbers of children living in poverty."
"An improbable bill that traces its roots to St. Petersburg's baseball-hungry past theoretically could cost Tampa Bay taxpayers as much as $108 million. The bill - backed by a crusading Bradenton senator who hates subsidies for professional sports teams - would enforce a long-forgotten law that required stadiums and arenas to double as homeless shelters."
"An effort will begin this week in Miami-Dade to count the homeless. Accompanied by members of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust , a team of more than 100 volunteers will set out Tuesday to find men and women who make the streets their home."
"Last summer, I discovered that a law established in 1988 provides that state-funded sports facilities should be designated homeless shelters when they are not in use for events and, guess what? To date, no state-funded sports facility has complied with that almost 24-year-old law."
"First, even though the KidCare program uses mostly federal money, it still requires a state match. For children who qualify for Medicaid -- one of the options under the umbrella of KidCare programs -- the split is about 50-50. For non-Medicaid recipients, it's even cheaper for the state, which only has to put up about 291/2 cents on the dollar."
"Massachusetts has one of the widest income gaps nationwide, according to Project Bread. Although the statewide average poverty rate is 11.4 percent, it varies greatly from town to town -- only 2.8 percent of Duxbury residents live at or below the poverty level, in contrast to 28.4 percent in Holyoke."
"Clearwater's shelter and day center for the homeless opened in 1998, the brainchild of a police chief and built with $650,000 in taxpayer funds. The Clearwater Homeless Intervention Project was, by most measures, a success. Over the years it lowered crime; mandated curfews, work and counseling; and housed 10,000 men, women and children otherwise destined for the street."
"'You combine those two things, as well as the poverty rates and the lack of education you sometimes get down here, and it's just a disaster,' said Kathie Hiers, CEO of AIDS Alabama and a member of the steering committee for the initiative, which goes by the initials SASI."
The city’s Shelter Plus Care Program provides housing and supportive services on a long-term basis for homeless persons with disabilities (primarily those with serious mental illness, chronic problems with alcohol and/or drugs, AIDS or related diseases) and their families who are living on the streets or in emergency shelters.
"To participate, recipients must be working and not receive any federal or state cash assistance, must reside in Collier County or Bonita Springs, have a child younger than 3 (they age out of the program on their third birthday) and must have an income that does not exceed 185 percent of the poverty level as per Women's, Infants and Children's (WIC) guidelines."
"Brevard County is not typically considered a poor county, yet many Space Coast schools have in excess of 80 percent of students participating in the free and reduced-price lunch program, a key indicator of the risk of hunger and poverty in an area."
"St. Petersburg and Tampa are two very different cities struggling with a common social problem: homelessness. A recent poll suggests that the cities' residents, while generally supportive of initiatives to curb the street presence of homeless individuals, still express an air of ambivalence over the best long-term action to help society's downtrodden."
"Administrators say they need to try this unconventional approach because there simply aren't enough teachers around to fill critical shortages in math and science at middle and high schools. They are targeting "high needs" campuses with a majority of students from low-income families."
"Poole never considered himself homeless -- he always had a place to stay with friends or family -- but he fits what federal law considers a homeless student. Lake County has about 2,500 students in the school district who are also homeless."
"Under the program, the van would offer voluntary treatments to second- and seventh-graders at schools with the highest percentage of students on free or reduced-price lunches. The age groups reflect when permanent molars have erupted. The health department, which says 47,600 low-income Pinellas kids have dental needs, would operate the vehicle with a hygienist, assistant and clerk."
"Many of the schools with lower graduation rates, such as Palm Beach Lakes High, Boynton Beach High, Glades Central and Royal Palm High, also are Title I schools, meaning they have a large portion of low-income students and receive federal assistance. Klinek said graduation rates are typically lower at Title I schools because many students come into those schools without the same skills as other students in the same grade level."
"'Recognizing a number of factors, including growing poverty in our community, the fact that we were able to hold the ground from our 2009 scores, that we remain a national leader in the student achievement, I was fairly gratified,' Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said."
"A Republican in the state Legislature wants to make it a little harder for someone with a drug-related felony conviction to receive welfare benefits and food assistance."
"The $600,000 will go toward renovating a building on the West Herman Street site for a Day Resource Center. It will have a learning center, computer lab, library, laundry facility, and mail and phone center. There also will be space at the center for service providers to meet with the homeless about their needs."
"It was just last year when downtown St. Petersburg was beset by what seemed to be an intractable homeless problem. Dozens slept on sidewalks most nights. Williams Park, a central, prominent downtown park, was dominated by homeless people."
"Seated at a picnic table near others in need of a meal, too, Kim Conrad couldn't bear to talk much about holidays or life in years gone by. It's too painful to flip through that mental memory book now that the 44-year-old and her fianceé, Ross Manczyk, are living in a Jeep 4x4, with no address and no firm prospects for the housing and jobs they seek."
"You have the 'couch homeless,' those that are living in the home of a friend or relative, the 'underemployed,' people who would be making more in a better economy and 'homeless children.' Three years ago, you didn't hear much about homeless children in Brevard, but now you do."
"The University of South Florida student and the homeless Haitian immigrant sat on opposite sides of the desk, working together on a geometry problem."
"Walmart is the leader in this year's great race to gobble up employee turkey time. It announced its opening at 10 p.m. Thursday. Since two-thirds of Walmart's hourly workers are women, many will arrive exhausted after cooking the family feast."
"Big in personality and stature, she's a born storyteller with an extended capacity for conversation. She drops religious nuggets like "God is good" into her speech. But the 64-year-old's nonconformity when it comes to running the longtime Bread of Life Mission for the homeless has brought uncertainty for the group again."
"We're talking about homeless panhandlers, some with days of scruff clinging to sun-hardened faces, who took to the medians and sidewalks asking for money, jobs, smokes. Anything will help, as one guy's sign read."
"In yet another sign of worker frustration over a shortened Thanksgiving holiday, an employee at a Best Buy in Tampa has launched a petition against his employer's decision to open earlier for the Black Friday shopping spree this year, claiming the midnight opening time will eat into workers' holiday time with their families."
"What to do about the ever-present and growing problem of homelessness was the focus of a community outreach summit Wednesday at Pasco-Hernando Community College's North Campus. Attended by representatives from several local homeless advocacy groups, the collective message was clear: Keep working together."
"The 1996 Welfare Reform Act authorized — but did not require — states to impose mandatory drug testing as a prerequisite to receiving state welfare assistance. In Florida and Michigan, the only two states where drug testing for welfare recipients has been tried, the courts have found that suspicionless searches of people — simply because they are requesting assistance from the state — are a violation of their Fourth Amendment rights."
"High poverty rates mean children are likely going to school from homes where unemployment, financial constraints, substance abuse and neglect are common problems. The by-products are less supervision of children outside of school, less help with homework and simply less parental involvement in a child's education."
"So the neighborhood activist says she wasn't surprised when homeless vendors hit intersections again Tuesday - this time to sell the first issue of Bill Sharpe's street newspaper.
'It's a whole gap in the defense,' said Long, 'and he ran right through it.'"
"The proposed $2.6 million project includes 17 apartments -- some 440 square feet and others 690 square feet -- for low-income seniors (62 and older) and more than 4,000 square feet in retail space on the first floor."
"Homeless advocates say Smith's comment is a common refrain from people living on the streets. The problem, officials say, is no one has the money to buy enough bus passes to meet the needs of the homeless."
“'They said every child should be able to learn, regardless of their poverty level,' said Gisela Feild, Miami-Dade’s administrative director for assessment, research and data analysis. Otherwise, it would have been good to include, Feild said. 'We all know that poverty is a big indicator.'”
"Youth and Family Alternatives, a provider of shelter and counseling for runaway and homeless children in Hernando and Pasco counties, has been named a finalist for a $15,000 office remake during National Runaway Prevention Month."
"The Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins kicked off the movement Tuesday in Tallahassee. He said the majority of foster children waiting for loving parents are teenagers. Foster kids who do not find a permanent family before turning 18 run a higher risk of being arrested, dropping out of school or becoming homeless."
"Emma Jewel Charter Academy in Cocoa will focus on nutrition and health. It will enroll grades K-6 and eventually grow to K-8, and focus on serving the impoverished Diamond Square community. Viera Charter School will focus on math and science. It will enroll grades K-7 the first year and grow to grades K-8."
"A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked a far-reaching Florida law that requires public assistance applicants to take a drug test, saying the law probably violates a constitutional ban on unreasonable search and seizure."
"Isaac and Dr. Nidhi Chander in Orlando are among 365 Florida members of the National Health Service Corps, which serves patients in low-income areas who otherwise could not afford to see a doctor."
"The 53-unit complex, formerly known as Chelsea Apartments, will be used to provide housing for homeless veterans. It's part of Homeward Bound, a community initiative to address homelessness and the city's revitalization efforts for the neighborhood, Lewis said."
"Richard Milburn Academy, a charter school with 85 percent minority enrollment, has a 23 percent graduation rate. In 2009, 15 percent of all births in Dunbar were to teen mothers. This compares with 10 percent of all Lee County births. The unemployment rate in the predominantly low-income 33916 ZIP code is 28 percent."
"Federal lawmakers said during a national town hall meeting Wednesday that they are working to help foster children succeed in school, citing dismal statistics including a 50 percent graduation rate among foster youths."
"Dentists say low-income families will be hurt the most when Pinellas stops adding fluoride to its water system around the end of the year, a move that will save the county about $205,000 a year."
"Cobb, who bought her Fee Avenue home 14 years ago, said she has watched as her neighbors have moved out rather than deal with homeless who loiter along their street, change their clothes in public and urinate in the park just feet away from a playground."
"Many Floridians do. Back before the recession, unemployment was low and incomes were peaking. Ortiz was making $80,000 a year as a full-time network-security engineer. He had money in the bank. He was saving for retirement."
"Orlando will arrest more people for panhandling this year than any year in the recent past, police statistics show. Officers have arrested 293 people, many of them homeless, so far this year for panhandling, according to the Police Department's crime-analysis unit. That's in comparison with 208 arrested within city limits on the same charge in 2010, and 291 in 2009."
"For nearly 10 years, the nonprofit Trinity Cafe has welcomed the homeless, the down-and-out and the working poor to a free, restaurant-quality lunch... The idea is to offer not just a good meal, but respect and dignity."
"'The lower-middle-class is really going under,' he said. 'When you come into our family dinner, the people around the tables aren't homeless and dirty. They're people who have to choose between buying food and paying their bills.'"
"Foster's warning came at a St. Petersburg City Council meeting during which police reported a slight increase in the number of homeless people from Hillsborough seeking aid in Pinellas County. Already, the Pinellas Safe Harbor shelter, which opened in January, is at capacity, with an average daily population of about 400."
"Early clues suggest retirees in Weston would fare better than military contractors in Orlando, and low-income and senior 'safety-net' programs will be protected. That's a major reason why Florida would be hurt less than most states."
"By March, low-income residents and seniors may not be able to turn to the Capital Area Community Action Agency for help paying utilities and other emergencies."
"This is Lotus House, a shelter for homeless women and children, among them some of the hardest cases from some of the toughest streets in Miami, for whom it is the last, best resort they could hope to find. But 'shelter’ doesn’t begin to describe Lotus House."
"After the failure of the Freedom Outpost Ministries low-income housing complex, Brevard County officials have tightened grant-award policies to try to avoid future losses."