The city of Sarasota and The Salvation Army’s joint Street Teams effort is scheduled to start in early March, three months later than originally planned.
The delay resulted from the reluctance of The Salvation Army to turn over records regarding private contributions, city staff reported, even though city policy calls for a full disclosure of an organization’s full financial situation before the city can enter into an agreement with the organization.
City staff explained the situation to the City Commission during its Feb. 6 regular meeting. After the commissioners conceded the city didn’t need the private donor information, staff was able to move ahead with negotiations.
The program, which had been expected to begin in December, will put members of the homeless population to work, cleaning the city’s streets while working to find gainful employment.
Street Teams is modeled on an initiative that has been under way since January 2009 in Daytona Beach.
In October, the Sarasota City Commission, acting as the Community Redevelopment Agency, agreed to allow city staff to work with the Salvation Army to form an alliance for Street Teams.
“We are working through the contractual agreement now,” said Director of Public Works Doug Jeffcoat.
City Public Information Officer Jan Thornburg said the document had been revised and sent to Salvation Army officials for their review and signatures.
The agreement calls for 15 people — three teams of five each — to work specifically in the Community Redevelopment Agency corridors of downtown and North Sarasota. The people selected to participate will work four hours a day, five days a week.
“Each day would be different, with different assignments that could include everything from cleaning graffiti to collecting trash and litter,” Jeffcoat said.
Other work could include sprucing up parks and cleaning up vegetation in public rights of way.
City staff was still undecided this week about the type of uniform the workers would wear, to distinguish them from regular city employees.
“We are really excited about the partnership and to be able to give these individuals an opportunity, while they are able to help the community at the same time,” Jeffcoat said.
David Sutton, The Salvation Army’s Sarasota director of programs and facilities, said he first learned of Street Teams during a conference a couple of years ago. Last year, he traveled to Daytona Beach to see first-hand how they operate.
The goal, Sutton said, “is to help people who are capable of work” and to provide them a safe environment in which to work.
“They have to be clean and sober and willing to work a program,” such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Sutton said.
In Daytona Beach, 38% of the people who participate in the program are able to find other employment and leave homelessness behind them, Sutton said.
The Salvation Army will house and feed the Street Teams participants, Sutton said, adding that the organization is seeking just enough funding to cover the cost of those services. City staff anticipates those expense will total $80,000 a year for the next three years, with the funds coming from the CRA pool.