MIAMI (CBSMiami) – As so many people have been hit hard over the past year and a half, there has been an unexpected ray of hope.
According to Miami-Dade County’s most recent homeless census, it shows the lowest homeless population in 25 years, which includes both protected and unprotected people.
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Ron Book, president of the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust, claims the COVID pandemic actually contributed to it.
“These days we don’t put people in shelters. We put them in our quarantine program, which is a hotel program, ”he explained. “While at the height of COVID, we had five or six hotels, which we put people in, we still put them in three places. “
More than 6,100 people have been served at these locations since their inception in March 2020. Many took the opportunity to get back on track.
“We have rules when you enter a hotel program,” Book said. “They follow the rules. They listen. We made the services available day in and day out.
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“You give people their prescription drugs,” he continued. “When they are given on time and regularly, and they remain lucid and stable, they are more inclined to integrate us into the programs and services that we offer. And that’s what we’re sure it worked.
To date, the county’s total homeless population is the lowest on record.
In 1996, it stood at 8,000 people. August 2019, showed a total of 3,698 homeless. Now it’s down to 3,355. That’s a drop of 9%.
The census was not taken in August 2020 due to the pandemic.
“Our goal throughout COVID is once you get them off the streets, keep them off the streets,” Book said. “Those we have brought continue with our outreach teams and our social workers to get them to access our services so that they accept us in permanent housing. “
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The quarantine program will last at least until the end of the year. The Homeless Trust is working to raise funds for more housing, especially with concerns over the moratorium on evictions. Book said they were about a third of the way to their goal of $ 15 million.