FLORIDA COALITION TO END HOMELESSNESS - RESPONSE TO  HB1365

The Florida Coalition to End Homelessness strongly agrees with the Florida Legislature and Governor DeSantis. Floridians sleeping on the streets or camping in public spaces is not an acceptable solution to our current housing and homelessness crisis. We ask that the State Legislature and Governor continue their work to ensure Floridians have access to housing and appropriate services to end the trauma of homelessness. The Florida Coalition to End Homelessness and its members stand ready to assist.

We encourage county and municipal leaders to work with their homeless continuum of care to follow best practices in ensuring there are emergency accommodations that are safe, dignified, and appropriately targeted toward the unique needs of various households experiencing homelessness. Communities incorporating strategies such as prevention, diversion, Rapid Rehousing, and Permanent Supportive Housing for people with disabilities are being implemented successfully across Florida.  These solutions solve homelessness, rather than managing it.

Here are some critical next steps for our members and partners:

Support the Homeless Crisis Response System

  1. Work with local government to include emergency shelters in their planning and zoning plans to increase access to low-barrier emergency shelters.
  2. Work with hospitals, mental health and substance abuse treatment centers, and law enforcement personnel (jails/probation) in the State of Florida to participate in effective discharge planning and collaboration with the local continuums of care.
  3. Revise the language in fs. 212.0306(1) to allow any county or municipality the ability to adopt a food and beverage penny program to help people who are homeless – or those about to become homeless.

Increase Access to Affordable Housing

  1. Work with the legislature to fund the Homeless Housing Assistance Grant for permanent housing specifically for individuals experiencing homelessness. A $6M recurring fund per year would fund at least 5 CoCs and their providers to increase the number of affordable long-term housing units specifically for individuals experiencing homelessness.
  2. Work with the legislature to encourage local governments to subsidize or build affordable rental housing, including eliminating or raising the cap on SHIP funding for rental housing. Then work with local government to prioritize individuals seeking assistance to those experiencing homelessness.
  3. Work with the Florida Housing Finance Corporation to develop strategies to encourage more nonprofit developers to apply for SAIL funding through a streamlined application process.

Increase Access to Supportive Services

  1. Implement the recommendations of the Permanent Supportive Housing Action Plan developed in 2023, including creating an Office of Supportive Housing to better coordinate housing and supportive services.
  2. Work with the Executive Branch (AHCA, Governor’s Office) to expand the Medicaid 1115 Wavier Pilot Program to include housing stability services for all members experiencing or at risk of homelessness.  

Homelessness  crosses various systems of care, including: local government, school districts, businesses, and private citizens, and it will require us all to work together to find solutions.  If you are not already part of your local homeless Continuum of Care, we invite you to join their work today.  To learn more, please visit  www.fchonline.org/coc.