Palm Beach County's Plan to End the Cycle of Homelessness

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History of Homeless Advisory Board

Palm Beach County’s Department of Community Services, Human Services Division, has been involved in serving homeless persons for 45 years.  In January 2006, the Division assumed the role of Lead Agency of the Palm Beach County Continuum of Care, the planning and evaluation body for the area’s homeless services delivery system, and a designation required to receive and provide oversight of Federal and state grant funding.  The result of an immediate process of self-analysis was the acknowledgement of the need to develop a comprehensive, long-range, community-wide strategic plan to address the issue of homelessness in Palm Beach County.

Towards that end, a working group of 57 individuals conducted monthly workshops beginning in October 2006.  A diverse representation of concerned community members, non-profit service providers and funding agencies participated, tasked with the identification and discussion of currently existing models of service being used to address homelessness, as well as gaps in services at the local level.  These workshops culminated in the composition of the seven goals with accompanying action steps that would later serve as the core of the Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness in Palm Beach County.

Concurrent with the efforts of this working group was the formulation of the Homeless Advisory Board, the composition of which was fashioned in such a way as to ensure that membersPDF possessed the authority to implement effective change.  Established by the Board of County Commissioners (BCC) in May 2007, the Palm Beach County Homeless Advisory Board (HAB) advises members of the BCC on matters related to the issue of homelessness, and was charted with the authority to gather community input on homelessness; review and comment to the BCC on homeless legislation; assist in the preparation and oversee implementation of the Ten-Year Plan; make funding recommendations to the BCC, and recruit private and public sector representatives to the membership of particular HAB committees.

The Homeless Advisory Board formally adopted the Ten-Year Plan in July 2008, followed by its adoption by the Board of County Commissioners in September 2008. The Ten-Year Plan outlines seven goals and sixty-three action steps that, when successfully implemented, will allow for the seamless flow of prevention, outreach, supportive services and housing that will effectively end homelessness in Palm Beach County.  Since October 2008, the HAB’s focus has been redirected toward the Plan’s implementation, which is being aggressively pursued by seven HAB Committees – Community Outreach and Public Awareness, Facilities, Funding, Housing, Policy and Legislation, Program Planning and Strategic Planning – on which the HAB’s members actively serve.  The HAB meets quarterly in February, May, August and November.  Minutes and agendas of the HAB meetings are available.