Longboat offers partial support in homeless strategy

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The Longboat Key Town Commission approved $1,000 in funding on Aug. 14 of the proposed $8,000 that Sarasota County requested in support of the $40,000 consultant fee needed to hire San Antonio-based Marbut Consulting to address the homeless issue.

The discussion on Longboat Key opened with Town Manager David Bullock stating, “I advised them of the fact that Longboat Key, of all municipalities, does not have a discernible homeless issue.”

Bullock related that County staff told him they were aware of that, but would appreciate even a token contribution. Bullock then informed the commission that the City of Venice agreed to pay the $8,000 asked of the four municipalities in the County, and the County itself. Commissioner Phill Younger took immediate issue with the request.

“We have eliminated funding for a lot of local groups that have a lot more pertinence than this,” said Younger.

Commissioner Lynn Larson echoed Younger’s sentiments saying, “We have enough money that travels across the bridge; we don’t need any more.”

Vice Mayor David Brenner did not completely agree, and said that it was his humanitarian side that he thinks the town should participate. He said that he could deal with the economics from that perspective. Then Brenner pointed out the impact the presence of the homeless in the streets of Sarasota and suggested that Longboat contribute with the proviso that the town have oversight in what transpires.

Mayor Jim Brown asked if there was a token or smaller amount that may be appropriate, and Bullock immediately replied that $1,000 could be the token amount.

Commissioner Jack Duncan asked Bullock if the token $1,000 would be criticized stating, “Why did they only give $1,000, or will we get a pat on the head?”

Bullock replied, “Yes,” then paused and said, “You are asking me to hypothesize what people will think.”

Commissioner Terry Gans added a voice of support for helping in this situation saying, “I don’t think we should be these people who turn their back on the community.”

Larson said, “I think this is going to turn into the next bus fund.”

Bullock responded that the request was for a specific scope of work, at the end the commission agreed to support with a $1,000 donation to the county with the desire to have the opportunity in the oversight of the program. Every commissioner supported the measure except Larson and Younger.

Sarasota County and the City of Sarasota signed an agreement Aug. 9 with Marbut Consulting to design a Strategic Action Plan for addressing the homeless in Sarasota.

In a letter dated July 24, Deputy County Administrator Lee Ann Lowery wrote to Longboat Key town commissioners requesting the funding since homelessness “is a community-wide issue,” and the plan, stated Lowery, will be a “community plan.”

Dr. Marbut has worked on the homeless issue in St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Key West, Panama City, Fresno, CA, Fort Smith, AR as well as creating the Haven for Hope in San Antonio, TX.

According to the Marbut Consulting website, the systems Dr. Marbut utilizes influence how plans are developed to establish transformational communities, such as in designing buildings, repurposing existing facilities, hiring people, activating volunteers, engaging the homeless community and working with government, business, faith-based and non-profit organizations.

According to the Suncoast Partnership to end Homelessness, the homeless population in Sarasota has more than doubled since 2011, with Sarasota County’s homeless population totaling an estimated 1,234 and Manatee County’s an estimated 820 people. In both counties combined there is an estimated 444 children under the age of 18 who are homeless.

Last April, in an effort to increase safety along roadways where homeless individuals were soliciting money from drivers, the Sarasota City Commission voted 4-1 to pass an ordinance which made it illegal to solicit or distribute donations from specific public roads and medians throughout the city.

Sarasota Mayor Suzanne Atwell regarded the ordinance as a positive move forward for the City of Sarasota, but the American Civil Liberties Union asserts it may challenge the ordinance in court.


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6 Responses for “Longboat offers partial support in homeless strategy”

  1. Longboat Key News says:

    It is to be used as a consultant fee.

  2. Ghostrider says:

    When this story was first printed you referred to the $40,000 as a consultant fee. In another article it was to be used directly for services.

    A clarification would be appreciated.

  3. Jim brown says:

    I personally met with Sarsota City Manager Tom Berwin and 2 city commissioners. They said they were very pleased that Longboat Key had provided its support. I attended a seminar on homeless with consultant Robert Marbut as panelist at the League of Cities conference and I was extremely impressed with his views and the results he has achieved in other areas.

  4. Ross says:

    I believe that we should be involved in this not because we have to but because it is the right thing to do,

  5. Ghostrider says:

    Did anyone ask what you would receive in turn for the $40,000 ?
    That pays a lot of light bills.

  6. William Kary says:

    I am surprised “Longgoat” Key even went the $1000…

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