Broward County officials report increase in homeless population, new apartment building offers hope in addressing the issue
Homelessness, a multifaceted and deeply-rooted issue, is a stark reality that plagues many individuals in the United States. The absence of a safe and stable home, coupled with a lack of access to basic necessities, renders many homeless individuals vulnerable and exposed to the elements. The complexity of the issue is further exacerbated by the various underlying factors that contribute to homelessness, such as poverty, mental health issues, substance abuse, and inadequate social support.
The COVID-19 pandemic also has had a significant impact on homelessness in the U.S. The pandemic contributed to an increase in homelessness in Florida as well. Many workers found themselves on the edge of eviction and homelessness, living in cars or other temporary shelters. And now, with the increased costs of living, many counties are experiencing a surge in homelessness, and Broward County is no exception.
The county official responsible for monitoring the population of unhoused individuals announced that the number has increased by approximately 500 people compared to the previous year. This rise can be attributed to various factors, including the exorbitant cost of living in South Florida.
Dr. Rebecca McGuire, who runs the county’s Housing Options and Support Division, stated that the high cost of housing is a significant contributing factor, and many people have been evicted due to rent increases they can no longer afford. Currently, there are an estimated 1,500 to 1,700 people living on the streets of Broward County, and another 600 in shelters.
The Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue Department is facing a daunting challenge in handling the growing population of homeless individuals in the city. According to Fire Chief Stephen Gollan, many people often mistake homeless individuals lying on the sidewalk or the side of the road as needing help and call 911. While responding to these calls, the department has found that many of these individuals do not want assistance, and in fact, some of them are the subject of multiple calls to the department in a single day.
To alleviate the situation, the city has established the Mobile Integrated Response Team, which is called in on some of these calls dealing with the homeless. The team provides resources to those who want assistance and is tasked with helping them get off the streets.
Although the situation remains challenging, the county is taking steps to address the problem. A brand-new apartment building, located adjacent to the homeless outreach center, is set to open soon, with units reserved for homeless families and workforce housing. While it may not be a complete solution to the issue of homelessness, the new building is expected to make a significant difference in addressing the problem.