The Street Teams program, a homeless initiative launched by the City of Sarasota in partnership with The Salvation Army, is marking one year of helping homeless individuals find permanent housing and employment. To date, 63 individuals who recently lived on the streets in Sarasota now have a safe place to call home and are employed as a direct result of the Street Teams program.
The Street Teams initiative was designed to assist the homeless by providing them with housing and job experience, while simultaneously helping them acclimate to the responsibilities associated with a stable work life, including punctuality and meeting job performance expectations. So far, 122 homeless individuals have participated in the program, with a 51 percent graduation rate. Of those who have graduated, all, except one, have landed jobs and moved into housing. The program marked its one-year anniversary May 24.
Virgil, a 32-year-old Sarasota native, is a recent Street Teams graduate. A recovering homeless alcoholic, he learned about the program while serving a sentence in the Sarasota County jail for a child custody issue. With no post-jail plan for employment or housing, Virgil was seen as a good candidate for the Street Teams program. He transitioned seamlessly into the program and immediately started changing his life, according to a press release from the city.
He’s now bussing tables and earns enough money to pay his monthly rent at a sober living house, where he just marked 19 months being sober.
“I’d be sleeping on the streets right now without the Street Teams,” Virgil said.
The City of Sarasota is providing an $80,000 grant toward operating the program: $40,000 in Tax Increment Funds from the Downtown Community Redevelopment Agency and $40,000 in Tax Increment Funds from the Newtown Community Redevelopment Agency.