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Florida Hospital pledges $6M to fight homelessness


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Andrae Bailey, CEO of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, holds up a photo of Nehemiah Woody, a homeless schizophrenic man who drowned himself earlier this year.

Andrae Bailey, CEO of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, holds up a photo of Nehemiah Woody, a homeless schizophrenic man who drowned himself earlier this year. Photo: Abe Aboraya / WMFE

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Florida Hospital will commit up to $6 million over three years to help reduce homelessness in Central Florida.

The hospital says the decision makes moral – and financial – sense.

The money will go toward finding affordable housing for families, and fund a program to house 300 of Central Florida’s chronically homeless.

“Florida Hospital does not commit $6 million to gestures,” said Florida Hospital CEO Lars Houman. “We invest in outcomes. Together we’ll create a program that those behind us can inherit.”

A recent study found it costs $31,000 per person, per year in services for the homeless, more than three times the cost of providing them with housing.

Houman says homeless patients come through the ER with HIV, hepatitis and other costly chronic illnesses.

“We’ll look for a reduction in the number of visits to the emergency room and really the whole cost of care for these individuals,” Houman said.

Orange County and the City of Orlando are also putting up money to fight homelessness. Orlando wants to follow Houston, Texas, which reduced its homeless population by half.

Central Florida Commission on Homelessness CEO Andrae Bailey told reporters at a press conference that Nehemiah Woody, who was in the viral Cardboard Stories video, drowned himself recently.

“Nehemiah, unfortunately, died on our streets scared and alone and without help,” Bailey said. “I tell you this story because today is the turning point for people like Nehemiah across our community.”


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Abe Aboraya

About Abe Aboraya

Health Reporter

Abe Aboraya started writing for newspapers in High School. After graduating from the University of Central Florida in 2007, he spent a year traveling and working as a freelance reporter for the Seattle Times and the Seattle Weekly, and working for local news websites in the San Francisco Bay area. Most recently Abe ... Read Full Bio »

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