Miami/ Politics & Govt
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Published on June 25, 2024
Palm Beach County Mayors Convene to Address Homelessness and Affordable Housing CrisisSource: Wikipedia/Florida General Assembly, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In an effort to confront the escalating crisis of homelessness and the scarcity of affordable housing, Palm Beach County Mayor Maria Sachs convened a symposium with mayors from throughout the region, as reported by WPBF. The gathering, which took place at the county convention center, involved a closed-door roundtable aimed at fostering frank discussions about homelessness in their cities and collaborative approaches to address it.

While the public was not privy to the discussions, the urgency of the matter is underscored by the recent enactment of House Bill 1365, which as WPTV reports, has made public camping and sleeping illegal without designated certification. This has left many of Palm Beach County's nearly 2,000 homeless residents, including those like Thomas Chealan, a cancer-stricken veteran, in a precarious position as they seek shelter.

As Sachs highlighted, "We cannot continue to grow as a successful county without having that infrastructure in place. And nobody knows the city's better than their mayors." In line with this, the symposium participants discussed the county’s recently updated affordable/workforce housing dashboard, which provides a housing locator to assist those in search of a place to live, as per WPBF.

Chealan, whose plight exemplifies the county's challenge, receives $1,700 monthly and is struggling to find affordable living accommodation. As he told WPTV, "It's like one bedroom, You got to share the toilet for $800 a month. It's crazy, and you got to buy food." Another voice in the conversation, Melissa Stringer of the Homeless Coalition, highlighted the invisible nature of the crisis, stating that "It's extremely hard because right now, we're facing corporate American homelessness," and noted that many are too ashamed to talk about their situation.

The mayors plan to reconvene on September 9, as they work toward finding both immediate and long-term solutions to the burgeoning issue. The goal is to make housing accessible and to prevent the further marginalization of Palm Beach County's homeless population, especially with House Bill 1365 set to take full effect on October 1.