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City Officials, Business Leaders Set Sights on Ending Chronic Homelessness

A homeless encampment in Daytona Beach. Photo: Renata Sago.
A homeless encampment in Daytona Beach. Photo: Renata Sago.

Putting an end to chronic homelessness is on the agenda at a meeting sponsored by the Downtown Orlando Partnership (DOP) Tuesday morning in downtown Orlando. The event is expected to draw hundreds of business leaders, housing advocates, and city officials in an inaugural annual series that members of the DOP say will relay the visible reality of chronic homelessness downtown and across central Florida.

Lori Pampilo Harris, spokeswoman for the Corporation for Supportive Housing, is behind a plan to get the city's homeless men and women off of the street and into apartments. She says the "housing first" initiative is a solution that will require help from more than government and social service agencies.

“This is a solution that has to be owned by the community. These folks who are our most vulnerable are our neighbors. They are our families. They are our youth. They are our veterans and they do deserve better.”

She expects to draw support from the city's large-scale property owners.

“We have resources that are going to help pay for rent. We have supportive services. But then we’re still missing you know, really, the units.”

A recent survey counted 1,613 homeless people living in Orange, Seminole and Osceola counties. In the past year, the city has transitioned more than fifty homeless men and women in downtown Orlando into places to live.

Pampilo Harris plans to launch a volunteer program to help the city and agencies identify who needs help.