Officials are helping the homeless in Palm Beach County and the city of West Palm Beach rather than simply eradicating them.
Palm Beach County officials will be helping the homeless rather than removing them from John Prince Park today.
Palm Beach County’s Division of Human Services staff will be assessing the homeless population currently in the park to determine what service eligibility.
Meanwhile, Mayor of West Palm Beach, Keith James, told 850WFTL that he just appointed a homeless services coordinator Marcus Laws to help with the problem in the city limits.
Mayor James says there is a homeless problem around the city in Curry Park, Dreher Park and downtown. He says the cause is multi-faceted: mental health, financial hardship and a lack of affordable housing.
If you have a homeless situation please call 561 822-1400
Full interview with Mayor Keith James on homelessness:
SFS WPB Mayor James on Homelessness
In this role, Mr. Laws will be responsible for overseeing the development and execution of the City’s Housing and Community Development homelessness initiatives in conjunction with community partners, City departments, local businesses and more. He will provide strategic guidance for resource allocation, ensure that homelessness concerns are addressed in a timely manner, and establish community connections to maximize HCD efforts.
Prior to his appointment as City of West Palm Beach Homeless Services Coordinator, Laws served as the outreach and engagement/Housing First supervisor at The Lord’s Place, a social impact agency serving homeless residents in our community. He has extensive experience as a counselor, housing coordinator, and psychiatric facility employee.
Laws earned his Bachelor of Science in Psychology and Criminal Justice from Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, North Carolina. He then earned his Master of Business Administration in healthcare management from Walden University in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
“The issue of homelessness impacts just about every American city,” said West Palm Beach Mayor Keith A. James. “We are committed to addressing homelessness in a compassionate and strategic way. The addition of Marcus Laws to our team will make our efforts even stronger. On behalf of all of us at the City, I extend Marcus the warmest welcome to our team. I am confident that he will play a critical role in our strategic plan.”
Through the HCD department, the City of West Palm Beach has executed a variety of tactics to address the root causes of homelessness. Under Mayor James’ leadership, the City implemented a program to provide on-street mental health resources to homeless individuals living with mental illness. The intention is to meet them where they are and to connect them with the help that they need. Additionally, Mayor James announced the “300 in 3” campaign at this year’s State of the City address. The goal is to create a minimum of 300 affordable and/or workforce housing units in three years. With the plan currently in place, the City’s homelessness population decreased 24% in 2019 when compared to the previous year.
To learn more about Mayor Keith A James, please visit: https://www.wpb.org/our-city/mayor-s-office/mayor-s-bio. To learn more about the City’s efforts to address homelessness, please visit: https://www.wpb.org/government/housing-community-development/wpb-homeless-resources. To contact the City of West Palm Beach, please call: (561) 822-2222 (TTY: 800-855-8771).