Human Services Highlights has been revived to update you on all the exciting news within our department. Whether it is a milestone, employee spotlight or newsworthy event, our quarterly publication will be the place to see it promoted.
Last year brought several changes, including my new role as the agency's Acting Director and I could not be more excited about our future. Although the horizon is promising, I must also acknowledge a few of our recent accomplishments that you have collectively made possible, including:
- The launch of our Office of Equity and Community Investment and the creation of our University Student Practicum Program.
- Community Partnerships Division’s North HAC transition to a new provider, just one-year post the homeless encampment.
- The implementation of BARC’s “Recovery Empowerment” program for residential treatment clients.
- The award of a $100,000 human trafficking prevention grant to the Crisis Intervention Support Division’s (CISD) Nancy J. Cotterman Center and Justice Services’ hosting of weSpeak: Broward Youth Against Gun Violence Campaign.
- Family Success expended over $8 million in emergency payments and stabilized over 18,000 households.
- The Behavioral Health Section of the Elderly and Veterans Services Division achieved national accreditation through the Council on Accreditation (COA).
These items skim the surface of the many goals Human Services recently accomplished and I Iook forward to working with you on more successes this year.
Caring for our community and for you,
One Year Later, The Encampment Success Story
Over half a million Americans are homeless according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and while that number is staggering, every effort to end the cycle puts a dent in this crisis.
November 26, 2019 marked one year since the disbanding of the downtown Fort Lauderdale encampment and while many saw it as an end, it was the beginning of a new life for those affected. Although planning took months, the abatement was completed in less than a week with extensive community collaboration. The County partnered with over 40 organizations, including the City of Fort Lauderdale, to ensure the encampment residents were treated with care and compassion during the transition. The goal was to smoothly shift the 87 households from the Main Library Plaza to permanent housing and provide them with tools for self-sufficiency and success.
To measure the progress of the encampment effort, our Family Success Administration Division (FSAD) formed a Housing Options Service Team (HOST) to provide an array of services to the encampment residents. FSAD and the Homeless Initiative Partnership Section of the Community Partnerships Division, who deserve a tremendous thanks, were instrumental in making miracles happen.
- Average monthly income for working clients: $1129.
- The number of former encampment clients that are employed has risen 300% since leaving the encampment.
- All former encampment clients have been successfully housed (either through Rapid Rehousing or Permanent Supportive Housing).
- Nearly 50% of the encampment clients are self-sufficient (defined as the ability to maintain affordable housing or supportive housing rents)
- No one from the encampment has returned to homelessness.
Although the encampment removal project was successful on many levels, homelessness continues to be an issue in the City of Fort Lauderdale and throughout Broward County. According to our annual 2019 Point in Time (PIT) count, there are still approximately 2,300 persons experiencing homelessness in Broward County, including 160 families who are literally living on the street.
The challenge to ending homelessness goes beyond providing housing, it also requires support once housing is established. Going from living on the street to living in a home is an adjustment for the resident and whose success is measured in different ways. At the very least, it’s a step in the right direction.
It is important to acknowledge those who sacrifice to help the less fortunate and we hope you can see yourself among this group. For updates on the encampment and to learn how you can help, visit the Community Partnership Division’s
Homeless Initiative Partnership page or call (954) 357-9702.
Note: Pictures are before and after the encampment.
Human Trafficking (HT) is a worldwide problem involving the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sexual act. It can happen to individuals of any race, age, gender, sexual orientation or nationality. HT has risen to be the second most common criminal activity behind the illegal drug trade.
According to the National Human Trafficking Hotline (NHTH), the state of Florida ranks 3rd in the United States for cases of human trafficking reported to their hotline. Between 2017 and 2018, the NHTH logged 174 calls for Broward and the Florida Department of Children and Families received 217 reports of youth HT victims. The numbers continue to rise, and we need the community to increase their awareness about the issue to help combat this crime.
The Nancy J. Cotterman Center (NJCC) within the Crisis Intervention and Support Division of the Human
Services Department expanded services to human trafficking victims providing trauma-informed intensive case management services to include crisis intervention, accompaniment, advocacy and referrals for the many needs of this population.
Recently, NJCC was awarded a three-year grant by the Office of Justice Programs, Office of Victims of Crimes to take the lead in centralizing the coordination of care and direct service delivery to all victims of HT.
If you suspect anyone is a victim of HT please contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline at (888) 373-7888 or call NJCC 24/7 helpline (954) 761-7273. You can also watch
“Human Trafficking - It Happens Here”
for more information.
Night of Elegance
Last year's Night of Elegance Masquerade Ball was a raving success. For four consecutive years, the planning committee (below) left no stone unturned, ensuring all 150+ guests had an amazing time and memorable moments to share. From the meal to the masks, this mixer will be a tough act to follow in 2020. We hope to see you at our next extravaganza, so keep an eye out for upcoming fundraisers and events that will set the wheels in motion.
The Committee: Sabine Desir, Niurka Aguiar, Monique Blissett, Carolyn Brown, Charla Butler, Yolene Charles-Pierre, Efrem Crenshaw, Ebony Dorcelus, Ann Holt, Coretta Khouri, Rosario Valladares, Chyna McKinney, Endrieta Mendoza, Myriam Villegas, Elizabeth Warner, and April Williams.
- Survey results show 84% of participants were pleased and will attend again
- Leadership support and promotion led to the Committee's largest contribution of $1,000 and lower ticket prices
- Events like the Picnic at Carter Park and Lunch at Mills were huge fundraising successes
Storms Are Passing
Last hurricane season ended without a storm making landfall in Broward County but now that we are back under blew skies, Human Services continues to prepare for an activation by completing position specific training and hurricane exercises. We were fortunate to only have a partial activation for Hurricane Dorian and that gave many County staff a true life simulation without having to experience a devastating landfall.
Human Services listened to your feedback and for the first time created shelter assignments in advance with geographic consideration. We appreciate the assistance you provide to our community by taking on emergency roles during events that impact our County and we want to ensure your ideas are incorporated in emergency assignments when possible.