Sarasota homeless population drops 50%

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A report issued last week shows the total number of homeless individuals in the City of Sarasota has been reduced by 52.1 percent since 2016.

The data was compiled in a study by the non-profit Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness. The survey was undertaken to evaluate homelessness in the city as well as Sarasota and Manatee Counties.

This data was welcomed by Sarasota City Manager Tom Barwin who said that the improvement “is attributable to the community’s commitment to evoke change through a systematic approach with a coordinated entry system and connecting housing with essential mental health and substance abuse services.”

The City created dedicated Homeless Outreach Teams since 2014, which include a social service case manager and a Sarasota Police Department officer, who work one-on-one with the chronic homeless.

Additionally, Sarasota Judge Erika Quartermaine runs a comprehensive treatment court, which is a jail diversion program that helps place the chronic homeless with mental health issues into housing and pairs them with social services.

Barwin said there is still work to be done and cited the need for continued funding for these programs.

The survey was completed during the night of Jan. 28, when more than 40 volunteers working in shelters and various organizations performed the count.

The survey found a total of 1,135 homeless individuals in Sarasota/Manatee Counties compared to 1,468 in 2016. The total number of homeless in the City of Sarasota was reported at 303 in 2019, and 632 in 2016.

All sub-populations of the homeless including veterans, youth and adults with children saw reductions in all areas of both counties.

One of the efforts has been to provide additional beds at the 10th Street Salvation Army in Sarasota with case workers helping to transition individuals from the Salvation Army to more permanent housing.

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