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Setting the Record Straight on the City's Homeless Initiatives

Post Date:November 19, 2014 9:00 AM


Sun-Sentinel Editorial - Fort Lauderdale:  Let Everyone Catch Breath on Homeless Issue pdf

Miami Herald - Jack Seiler Says Arnold Abbott, 90-Year-Old, Wasn't Taken into Custody 

Governing Magazine - America's Troubled War on Homelessness

Sun-Sentinel Editorial- County Summit Needed on Homelessness pdf

Read the Latest Message from Mayor Seiler pdf

Fort Lauderdale Florida… The Homeless…. The Media…. What’s really being done…  

NBC News Report - Food Feud:  More Cities Block Meal-Sharing for Homeless

Urbanful - 33 Cities Have Regulations on Food Sharing 

New York Times Weighs in on City’s Efforts to Help the Homeless

New York Times - Tensions Over Park Behavior as Homelessness Rises in New York City

Love Thy Neighbor Rejects Alternative Feeding Sites

Fort Lauderdale (November 12, 2014) - Making good on its promise to Arnold Abbott, the City of Fort Lauderdale offered Love Thy Neighbor two alternative locations on Fort Lauderdale Beach where the organization could conduct its feeding in compliance with the City’s new ordinance – the Aquatics Complex at 501 Seabreeze Boulevard and the Church by the Sea at 2700 Mayan Drive.  Love Thy Neighbor rejected both offers.  This evening, the City had both locations set up and ready to go in hopes that Mr. Abbott would change his mind.  He did not, and instead, continued to conduct his feeding at a location in violation of the City’s outdoor food distribution ordinance.

City Offers Alternative Feeding Site to Love Thy Neighbor

Fort Lauderdale (November 11, 214) - The City of Fort Lauderdale, in an effort to work together with Love Thy Neighbor, has made good on its promise to identify an alternative feeding location for the group's outdoor food distribution.  The City will offer the Aquatics Complex site, located at 501 Seabreeze Boulevard, as an alternative location for the activity, which is scheduled to take place at 5:30 pm tomorrow evening (Wednesday, November 12).  We await word on whether Mr. Abbott will accept the City's offer.


Mayor Seiler Sets the Record Straight on CNN's New Day

Mayor Seiler Sets the Record Straight on WPLG "This Week in South Florida"

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Links to Other Broadcast Stories and Videos






Innovative Leadership Key to Addressing Homelessness

Let’s set the record straight.

Contrary to media reports, the City is not banning groups from feeding the homeless.  We have established an outdoor food distribution ordinance to ensure the health, safety and welfare of our community.  The ordinance does not prohibit feeding the homeless; it regulates the activity in order to ensure it is carried out in an appropriate, organized, clean and healthy manner.

While the ordinance regulates outdoor food distribution, it permits indoor food distribution to take place at houses of worship throughout the City.  By allowing houses of worship to conduct this activity, the City is actually increasing the number of locations where the homeless can properly receive this service. 

At recent outdoor food distributions, citations were rightly issued for non-compliance with the process enacted to ensure public health and safety.  Contrary to some reports, no one was taken into custody. 

Experts agree that homeless individuals need more than just food.  The homeless need shelter, clothing, and comprehensive medical and social services to help them get back on their feet.

Few cities have done more for the homeless than Fort Lauderdale.  We are taking a comprehensive approach by working with numerous agencies, non-profit, charitable and faith-based organizations that, like us, are dedicated to effectively addressing this complex and important issue.  Our overarching goal is to provide a long-term comprehensive solution for the homeless population.  While aiming for that goal, we are concurrently working to protect public safety and maintain quality of life for our neighbors, businesses, and visitors. 

Our initiatives include:

  • Fort Lauderdale was the first city in South Florida to establish a Police Homeless Outreach Unit, which currently makes 8,000 referrals a year providing access to housing, critical medical care, and social services.  The award-winning initiative has been replicated by law enforcement agencies across the country.
  • Since 1999, Fort Lauderdale has been home to the only full service comprehensive Homeless Assistance Center in Broward County.  The City recently approved expanding the center’s size and scope of services.
  • The City maintains an active partnership with Mission United, a program dedicated to providing housing and social services to homeless Veterans.
  • The City also supports Broward County, the Broward Partnership for the Homeless, Housing Authority of the City of Fort Lauderdale, Salvation Army of Broward County, United Way of Broward County, Hope South Florida, the Task Force for Ending Homelessness, and many others. 
  • Fort Lauderdale is the only city in South Florida and one of only 235 communities nationwide participating in the 100,000 Homes Campaign (Housing First) to move disabled and chronically homeless people into permanent housing. 
  • Our Housing First initiative was recently re-funded for a second year, giving us an additional $455,000 to continue to operate and expand this effort to serve even more homeless.

As part of our comprehensive strategy, the City has passed new ordinances that aim to reduce the public safety hazards and inappropriate nuisance activities that are negatively impacting our community.  Our quality of life and our economic viability are directly linked to our stewardship of public spaces.  As such, we have a responsibility to ensure that all of our public spaces are accessible and can be safely enjoyed by everyone – families, children, residents and visitors. 

The City, our neighbors, and our businesses have a long and distinguished history of compassion toward those in need. 

We encourage those groups that are feeding the homeless to partner with agencies and organizations that, like Fort Lauderdale, are taking a comprehensive approach to this issue so that we can begin to make real progress – instead of enabling the downward cycle of homelessness to continue.

John P. “Jack” Seiler
Mayor, City of Fort Lauderdale

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