If Sarasota County doesn't change the way it deals with homelessness, the problem will increase 20% in the next 20 months, according to Dr. Robert G. Marbut.
Marbut, a homelessness consultant, explored the topic with county political and business leaders at a summit co-hosted by the Community Foundation of Sarasota and Gulf Coast Community Foundation Thursday, July 18.
He praised the community for its prevention, but noted the fair weather means there will forever be an inbound flow of the homeless.
"I have never seen on a whole such a generous community," Marbut said. But, the kindness borders on enabling homelessness, rather than engaging the homeless community with programming. And the county doesn't do enough for those that are currently homeless — a number that is much higher than it appears, Marbut said.
Marbut advocated after a tour of Sarasota County facilities that:
+ Sarasota County agencies need to be proactive about creating an overarching homelessness management system.
+ Sarasota County needs two small facilities for newly homeless families with strong case-management staff. One facility should go in the city of Sarasota and another facility should be located in south county, with four to eight living units.
+ Sarasota County needs a one-stop homeless management facility, which includes emergency housing, an emergency room, and a master intake point.