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Homeless Outreach Team
The Sarasota Police Department’s Homeless Outreach Team interacts with the homeless population throughout the City of Sarasota with the hopes of providing those individuals with viable alternatives to homelessness. The team consists of four Officers and one Sergeant and works in partnership with the City of Sarasota’s Homelessness Program which includes a coordinator and two case managers.
This team has several ways of assisting people in need, which includes conducting outreach, case management, a voucher program, the Homeless Outreach Team program at the Salvation Army, and partnership with local outside agencies. These efforts have proven to be effective as more services are being offered.
Educate, Encourage, and Enforcement
Officers EDUCATE individuals about Sarasota City Code and local services available to them. The team attempts to link individuals to resources in the community.
Officers ENCOURAGE individuals to engage with the case managers and local service providers. Individuals may be offered one of 25 City H.O.T. beds at the Salvation Army of Sarasota, which are utilized for those working with a case manager until they find housing.
If they are involved in criminal activity after educating and encouraging, officers proceed to ENFORCEMENT, which may be a summons to appear in court or a physical arrest.
The Homeless Outreach Team offers outreach services to individuals throughout the entire city of Sarasota, acting as a bridge between homelessness and the Continuum of Care within Sarasota County. They provide educational material highlighting service providers to every individual willing to accept the information and take their time with each individual during every contact to explain the material.
The members of this team They will meet with individuals at a variety of locations including the Sarasota Health Department, Sarasota County Jail, homeless encampments, Salvation Army, Resurrection House, Selby Library, Sarasota City Hall, city parks, and the downtown Sarasota County Bus Station located at 2nd St and Lemon Ave. They will also provide transportation to individuals requesting or accepting services to of any Continuum of Care agency with the Sarasota region.
The Case Managers meet weekly with other case managers from the Continuum of Care to discuss vulnerable individuals needing services.
HOT Program at the Salvation Army
On October 1, 2015, the City of Sarasota and Salvation Army entered an agreement that guarantees a free night in a bed at the Salvation Army when that individual is brought in by the Sarasota Police Department. They are provided Shelter, Security, and Food. This program is voluntary, and no one is forced to enter the program. Individuals will have 3 nights free in the program, as long as the individual meets with a Case Manager. If after the 3rd day they do not want additional services, they will leave. If the person is willing to meet with a case manager and develop a plan to enter the Continuum of Care, then the individual will receive an additional 4 days in the program.
Partnership with Local Agencies
The Homeless Outreach Team has partnered with other local agencies, many of which participate in outreach with the Homeless Outreach Team every Tuesday. Some of these organizations include Jewish Family and Children’s Services of Sarasota-Manatee, Vocational Rehabilitation, School House Link, and Coastal Behavioral. Each agency provides different services that can benefit homeless individuals.
Homeward Bound Program
The Homeless Outreach Team assists individuals with transportation services to reunite with family or loved ones. It allows for the individual to travel outside of Sarasota to someone who has a residence available to them. In addition, if an individual has arrangements to live with a friend or if the individual will be entering a service program out of town, they too are eligible to receive assistance.
This program provides transportation for the individual to the Greyhound Bus station and if travel is to last over four hours, the traveler will be provided a snack and drink by a local social service provider.
Members of the team will confirm any of the above reasons for needing transportation and they will verify the traveler has no outstanding warrants; PCA’s, is not listed as a missing person, nor used the Homeward Bound Program before.
Currently, the city has an agreement with the Sarasota Housing Authority which will allow for 15 homeless individuals to receive vouchers for housing. Each individual and/or family involved in the Voucher Program will have to meet the standards of any other individual and/or family who would qualify for HUD.
The Homeless Outreach Team does assist those individuals in finding housing if they are unable to find housing on their own. A voucher holder will have case management for a period of one year with a case manager.
We need your help!
Homelessness is a community-wide challenge that requires a community-wide response. You can make a real difference by:
- Making a donation directly to a homeless-service provider instead of encouraging panhandlers.
- Encouraging the use of local food pantries and soup kitchens to prevent the dangerous and unhealthy practice of dumpster diving.
- Notifying the Homeless Outreach Team if you see someone on the streets who may need help.
- Reporting illegal activity and trespassers to the police and posting “No Trespassing” signs to discourage vagrancy at your business. For more information, click here: “No Trespass” Information
- Taking the initiative to learn more about homelessness issues and what can be done to make a difference within the City of Sarasota.
Contact – Sergeant Jaime Morrison 941-263-6823