On February 10th Camillus House began the first day of scaled-back day center program that provides showers, hot meals, clothes and a place to rest to homeless. The program was serving about 340 people a day, but became unaffordable following funding reductions last summer. It has been the consequence of the HUD change in policy, favoring “housing first approach” at the expense of shelter’s services, and the Homeless Trust following that policy.
Camillus House now limited admission to the first 110 men and 40 women who came to its doors.
Without new funding, the day center will close on July 1, leaving their clients to search elsewhere for food and shelter. There is no other shelter that can accommodate them. A bad situation will become worse.
Downtown will see an increase of panhandling and petty theft when many will be pushed to that as a last resource.
There was a meeting of the Executive Committee of the Homeless Trust on Friday February 10th. Ron Book, the chairman of the Trust, will not help Camillus House on keeping the Day Center Program, even when there was pressure from the residents.
Instead, he says Miami Beach commissioners should stop blocking a 1% food and beverage tax on all restaurants that aren’t connected to hotels. That could generate up to $6 million a year.
If the tax is approved, where will the Trust allocate the new $6 million? Most probably to permanent housing, not to emergency shelters. The situation of people on the street will not improve.
The Homeless Trust has an annual budget of $61 million a year and $20 million in reserve. The Homeless Trust should not put conditions to do what is expected from them:
Fund the Day Center program!!