Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
spenser1058

Homeless Options

16 posts in this topic

I started a new topic on this because it has such a significant impact on downtown. Interestingly, I hear from some people that transients are part of the "urban edge;" that's what sets apart from the 'burbs (although recent studies have indicated that the suburbs are now facing similar issues and local studies have indicated there are likely more of the homeless in the suburban areas of metro Orlando than downtown). Those of us who live downtown tire of being panhandled multiple times as we attempt to walk to the library or Publix. Still others worry about overuse of Eola Park for regular feedings of the homeless in a setting which is not conducive for such activity on a regular basis. Meanwhile, the city has spent thousands of dollars in court litigating challenges.

All of these things, regardless of your opinions on the topic, affect the success of downtown: property values can be affected, visitors can be afraid to visit if "those people" are accosting them even though the majority of homeless folks are no more dangerous than you and I. There's also the need for the community to help with a variety of issues that caused the homeless to find themselves in such a position in the first place. Whether it's help for vets suffering from PTSD, getting ID's for those who can't get a job without them or solving the problem of drug use, it impacts the quality of life downtown.

As this article points out, there is a move afoot once again to provide a drop-in center to address many of these issues. The success or failure of this project will make a big difference. If the primary issue is jobs, though, given that in the Orlando area the overwhelming majority of entry-level jobs is in the tourism areas to the southwest, is this the best place for a drop-in center? Do we need to consider a funding solution (for example, some areas in south Florida remit a portion of the sales tax to transient centers)? It's clear that ignoring the issue isn't working, so what do we do?

Volunteers envision resource center for Orlando's homeless

http://www.orlandosentinel.com/features/os-orlando-homeless-20110520,0,2401891.story

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


It amuses me that Orlando thinks it has such a huge homelessness problem downtown. You should see what other cities like San Francisco, Washington DC, parts of Boston and other cities face. I always keep hoping against hope that Orlando could learn from cities that have gone that way before, but I guess like a kid, it has to make its own mistakes.

Homelessness, at least transient homelessness, is not a disease or condition, it is not a financial situation or mental state. Hunger is only one small result. And like Orlando is going to discover, it is not something you can just pick up and relocate, or outlaw, or even discourage. Transient homelessness is a social situation and culture. It all comes part and parcel with affluence and low investment in infrastructure and social services, low taxes and sheltered communities. The only way you are ever going to get rid of it is by willing to accept it, and overwhelm it with an open community and social environment where people dont fall into that lifestyle in the first place. Intentionally or not, you have created another social caste that is very hard to break out of. A community center is a great idea and start, but that is hardly going to make a serious dent in changing the situation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always felt San Fran was the worst. My experiences in DC, NYC, Philly do not compare to Orlando.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Saying that Orlando is just following other cities that have failed doesn't seem to be a fair assessment. Are there any cities that don't have homeless people? If so, then you could say that there is a better model. Always pointing out that Orlando is not a Utopian society is easy. What perhaps is the answer for the ages? If the answer was so logical, it would be in place in every major city by now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think a center like this is long overdue.

Some things they're already doing (from the article):

Already, Petrescu is providing some of those services — bus passes, a clothes closet, a resume service and aid in applying for food stamps and disability — on the St. George property, where her group has been serving weekly dinners for the homeless for more than a year. Musicians perform at the Friday night meal, which has attracted more than 200 diners, and a "Hopeful Soles" shoe program run by Winter Park's Circle Christian School provides footwear.

Some ideas they'll hopefully bring back:

In 2009, Hamatie had offered the building to a group of Orlando churches that had announced plans for a $2 million drop-in center downtown. The center, backers said, would give the homeless a place to nap, take showers, do laundry, check voicemail and email, and access mental-health and addiction counselors. Caseworkers would help people find jobs and transitional housing.

Homelessness will always be an issue, anywhere and at any time. But there's a lot that can be done to both nip it in the bud and help those who are already homeless. A huge proportion of kids released from orphanages and foster homes turns homeless, as do many people released from jail. People who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless (but don't have the common problems like drug addiction or mental illness) can really benefit from skills training and interview workshops. I know I'm oversimplifying things, but it's all about self-esteem. They know what people say about them, that they're homeless because they're lazy or crazy and hopeless. But if they can go to a place where someone will tell them there's hope for you, we can help you, where they can get cleaned up and learn new skills, they become motivated.

Of course there's a large subset of homeless people with addictions and/or mental problems. While they may not "bounce back" and rejoin mainstream society, drug counseling, therapy, and medication can go a long way. A lot of these ideas cost money, such as building the centers and supplying medications. But really, the human resource components - counselors, teachers, people to hand out food, or just someone to talk to them - are cheap. I would bet most if not all positions could be filled with existing or new volunteers. But it's hard to convince volunteers to walk around downtown and find people to help. If there was a center where people would come to them, more people would be willing to help out.

1 person likes this

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Homelessness in Orlando is a big problem, because this is Orlando - not San Fran or NYC. I'm all for helping people who are truly looking to better themselves, but this center seems as though it will enable & attract even more homeless people to the CBD. At what point should an individual carry his own burden? There are already way too many homeless shelters/services in such a small vicinity. The responsibility needs to be shared with other cities. Agencies like the Salvation Army and others seek to rehab the individual as a whole - offering meals, shelter & education. The point is to get them off the streets.

I hate to sound so calloused; I'm really not. But it's easy for people who mean well, to actually make the situation worse. The church means well. but Food Not Bombs is anti government. I don't even live in the CBD yet I still have to deal with homeless guys. It's the bad apples that ruin it for everyone and unfortunately, it seems as though the bad outweighs the good.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't know how badly Orlando compares to other major city cores, but I can offer my anecdotal experiences. Back in January I had the idea of counting the number of times I would be solicited for money during my daily work/lunch/home ritual using a spreadsheet. I'd walk from 55 West to The Plaza. Lunch would come, I'd walk up to Jimmy John's on Orange, and then back to The Plaza. I'd then walk from the Plaza back to 55 West at night. I was venturing no more than a block at any point.

I lost track and stopped recording sometime in late January or early February. But I had determined that in about a 30 day period I'd been solicited for money around 100 times. The average was somewhere around 3-4 times a day. I only had one incident where I actually felt threatened by the person.

I've spent a lot of time in Chicago and Atlanta for work. I'm not sure these are really comparable, because once again my experience is so specific. I rarely venture very far from Michigan Ave in Chicago and most of the encounters I'd have there were from people trying to sell me random bullcrap. Atlanta I rarely had problems but I was in midtown which seems to be pretty clean.

I think the problem with Orlando is that our downtown is small relative to our population, and the concentration of homeless in the CBD is seemingly very high.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


From my experience that is nothing. But then again I am used to cities like Boston and Seattle and San Fran. I think part of the problem is that downtown Orland is such a car-centric culture still, that you don't see as many regular pedestrians. I think you also have a situation where Downtown has such a "clean" look to it, at least the core, that the panhandlers stick pout like a sore thumb.

I think it is important to keep in mind that "homelesS" is really a big catchall term - just as there is no one good description of a homeless person beyond the fact they don't have a permanent home, there is no one solution. Part of the issue is really identifying what exactly it is that everyone is opposed to - is it the the fact that you have a public service in the park, is it the panhandlers? That you have people you feel uncomfortable having around and are driving away business? Is it just about tax money and our place versus their place?

If it really is the later - about everyone paying their own way, then I wish those people would own up to that instead of trying to justify it. Then again., I also feel that if that is indeed the idea, then too bad - if it is something you don't want to invest in then live with the consequences.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Homelessness, at least transient homelessness, is not a disease or condition, it is not a financial situation or mental state. Hunger is only one small result. And like Orlando is going to discover, it is not something you can just pick up and relocate, or outlaw, or even discourage. Transient homelessness is a social situation and culture. It all comes part and parcel with affluence and low investment in infrastructure and social services, low taxes and sheltered communities. The only way you are ever going to get rid of it is by willing to accept it, and overwhelm it with an open community and social environment where people dont fall into that lifestyle in the first place. Intentionally or not, you have created another social caste that is very hard to break out of. A community center is a great idea and start, but that is hardly going to make a serious dent in changing the situation.

 

Lately I have spent a lot of time thinking about the poorer parts of town, and I haven't been able to figure it out.

 

In particular, this recent WFTV piece on the Tymber Skan condominium association off Rio Grande and Texas.  The tenants of this complex are facing a great possibility of becoming homeless, if they don't pay the water bill.

 

What can we do to help a situation like this?  I am reminded of the fairly recent demolition of the defunct Colony Plaza timeshare condominium in Ocoee.  No one was living there, but the City finally approved its demolition.  Do we start over when the situation devolves into a situation like this, where people may have their water turned off because their landlord failed to pay the HOA fees?  I have been lurking on this board for a long time, and the people who post here tend to have well-reasoned arguments.  I was hoping we could move the conversation forward on this important issue.  Thank you!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bringing this topic back from the dead because of all the recent momentum regarding homelessness in the region.  Successful "Housing First" models (providing free, permanent housing plus support services to chronically homeless individuals with co-existing mental health/substance abuse) across the country and Europe have changed the conversation at the federal funding level, and this approach has gained a lot of traction locally.  There is an obvious counter to the philosphy that gives a substance abuser free housing without asking for even abstinence in return, but evidence has been building that this not only saves lives, but saves money (fewer arrests, ER visits, etc).  A study was performed on the downtown homeless popuation identifying the most at risk individuals, and the city, county and FL hospital have been working toward a funding goal to provide housing to them.  The plan scatters them wround - not in one big building/project.  I've been researching this a lot and although I'm skeptical of some motives (the city is largely anti-homeless, it would appear their motivation is to remove the vagrants from the front of their shiny new venues as much as anything else), I do beleive it is an interesting new approach - and there is financial backing by FL Hospital and the county that makes me believe it may really happen. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On my run this morning, I noticed that the Greek Orthodox Church across from Lake Eola has just put a huge 8 foot iron fence and gate a few feet between the sidewalk and the front of the church.  Although I appreciate their concern for feeding the homeless, I don't agree with how they are going about doing it.  I do find it kind of ironic that their community "outreach" has resulted in isolating themselves with a fence--I think it looks horrible. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

On my run this morning, I noticed that the Greek Orthodox Church across from Lake Eola has just put a huge 8 foot iron fence and gate a few feet between the sidewalk and the front of the church.  Although I appreciate their concern for feeding the homeless, I don't agree with how they are going about doing it.  I do find it kind of ironic that their community "outreach" has resulted in isolating themselves with a fence--I think it looks horrible. 

 

I must be thick headed...what is the point of the fence if they want to feed the homeless? I would think they would only build a fence to keep homeless away.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I must be thick headed...what is the point of the fence if they want to feed the homeless? I would think they would only build a fence to keep homeless away.

I think they want to keep the homeless they attract from sleeping at the front of the church.  The fence is only a few feet from the church and looks so out of place, my initial thought was it looked like a concentration camp.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites


I also suspected it was to prevent the loitering issue along Wall St and Rosalind Ave. The city has been in talks with the church to reduce or stop the feedings altogether to curb loitering after a woman was brutally beaten and raped by a homeless man in that area. Regardless, the fence looks horrible and there's already a open code enforcement violation with the city since the fence was "installed without permits".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.