ORLANDO, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - The City of Orlando will try a program that officials in Houston, Salt Lake City, and other major cities believe is working. They plan to give the homeless a place to live. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer tells FOX 35 he has seen it work. "The idea is to identify the most vulnerable, chronically homeless, and get them into permanent supportive housing which means you put a roof over their head without them having to go through a 3 or 4 step process."
Jose Carrasquillo showed up for the Food Not Bombs feeding that happens outside City Hall every Monday. "We all deserve a second chance, you know?"
Mayor Dyer says those that are put in the program will get more than just a place to live. The idea is to prevent and fix the things that made these people homeless in the first place. "Alcohol counseling all the way down to just life skills."
While Jose Maldanado could use some life skills, he's been in and out prison, he would settle for a bathroom, and has not showered in five days. "I got the Library, Lynx station, and the park. That's the only 3 public places."
The time Maldanado spent in prison, and his other problems do cost taxpayers money. Mayor Dyer says the new approach should actually cost taxpayers less over the long term. "Any of the individuals you see living on our streets or int he woods that make use of the emergency rooms or the judicial system or the jails end up costing society between 30 and 40 thousand dollars a year."
The program will cost more than 4 million dollars over the next 5 years. The city is estimating they can help get these people off the streets for between 12 and 15 thousand dollars a year. Most will be housed in old hotels that are no longer active. Orange County plans on joining this program as well. They will vote Tuesday on chipping in more than a million dollars a year.