Press Release (ePRNews.com) - PEMBROKE PINES, Fla. - Dec 26, 2017 - Purpose Built Families Foundation says the recently released 2017 HUD Point-in-Time Count includes important warnings for activists facing off against Veteran homelessness.
While the report shows positive multi-year trends, hundreds of South Florida Veterans remain homeless and some of the data is alarming local activists.
On a single night in January 2017, HUD reported 367 Veterans were homelessness in Miami-Dade and Broward counties. Across the two counties, that’s a one percent decline compared to 2016. For the same period, the number of homeless Veterans nationwide increased by 1.6 percent.
Beyond bricks, mortar, benefits and budgets, lasting success is about helping Veterans connect with and experience a sense of community.
In 2011, HUD reported 701 homeless Veterans in Broward and Miami-Dade counties. Based on the 2017 count, the overall number of homeless Veterans has been cut by 48 percent across two of Florida’s largest metropolitan areas.
The report revealed homeless Veterans are much more likely to be sheltered in Miami-Dade. Between 2011 and 2017, Miami-Dade County saw a 90 percent decrease in the number of unsheltered homeless Veterans. Although Broward County’s numbers dropped by 52 percent since 2011, advocates are concerned by a 30 percent increase in the number of unsheltered homeless Veterans between 2016 and 2017.
Two new affordable housing developments will open in Miami to provide permanent homes for 100 very low-income Veteran families in early 2018. Carrfour CEO Stephanie Berman-Eisenberg says the apartments will move Miami-Dade closer to the goal of declaring an end to Veteran homelessness.
“VA has played a key role bringing resources together to help Miami-Dade rapidly respond to the diverse housing needs of very low-income Veterans,” she said.
That role has included funding for outreach, case management, legal services, prevention assistance, and rapid re-housing through the Supportive Services for Veteran Families initiative launched in 2011. “VA’s significant investment has made a difference for South Florida’s Veterans,” Berman-Eisenberg said.
The Point-in-Time count shows South Florida has not had the same success tackling homelessness generally. While homelessness among Veterans dropped by 46 percent since 2011, overall homelessness dropped by just 3 percent in Miami-Dade during the same period. In Broward County, homelessness increased by 6 percent in 2017 while maintaining a 36 percent overall decline compared to 2011.
Seth Eisenberg is co-founder and CEO of Purpose Built Families Foundation’s Operation Sacred Trust collaboration, a nationally-accredited public-private partnership dedicated to ending Veteran homelessness. The Pembroke Pines-based nonprofit helps more than 1,000 homeless and at-risk Veteran families each year. Eisenberg said success is created “one Veteran family at a time.”
“We look to understand personal goals, priorities and barriers to lasting housing stability,” he said. “From there, our team can help align the supportive services, financial resources, and linkages that offer each unique Veteran family the best chance of long-term success.”
Despite strong public-private partnerships and significant federal investment, Eisenberg said South Florida is one of the nation’s most challenging areas for very low-income Veterans.
“The rental housing market remains among the most expensive in the nation with affordable units increasingly scarce,” he said. “Miami-Dade is home to Florida’s largest nonprofit developer of affordable housing. Having Carrfour at the table committed to ending Veteran homelessness makes a big difference in Miami. Struggling Veteran families in Broward deserve the same opportunities to rebuild their lives.”
Six years on the front line ending Veteran homelessness in South Florida has taught him valuable lessons.
“Beyond bricks, mortar, benefits and budgets, lasting success is about helping Veterans connect with and experience a sense of community,” he said.
“We’ve come a long way bringing together the resources to end Veteran homelessness. While fiscal resources are critical, the challenge is increasingly about ensuring Veterans are warmly welcomed, actively engaged and meaningfully participating in the life of the neighborhoods they call home,” said Eisenberg.
Purpose Built Families Foundation