Sarasota News Leader

09/06/2013

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Sarasota News Leader September 6, 2013 Page 13 port an 80-percent decrease in the number of If Sarasota does not do anything, he predicts homeless people staying in parks, on beaches a continued increase in the homeless populaand in public areas. tion, due in large part to the high number of veterans leaving the military with post-trau"We can get a really good reduction," Marbut matic stress disorder. Another factor is a job noted. market showing no signs of recovery for emIn Pinellas County, after Pinellas Safe Harbor ployees without four-year college degrees. opened, the county recorded a 91-percent decline in the number of homeless people living "If Sarasota doesn't do anything, I can almost guarantee a 20- to 30-percent increase," Maron the streets. but pointed out. Those communities where Marbut has devised a plan also have seen a 50-percent increase 'SMART LOVE' in the long-term success rate for people who graduate from programs aimed at getting them Marbut's advice to Sarasota residents who hand out money to panhandlers is to "rediinto secure homes. rect" that money to one of the organizations in Ending homelessness, however, is not his ob- town such as Family Promise, Harvest House, jective. The Salvation Army or Resurrection House. "I don't come in saying I will end [it]. We en- He notes that a newspaper headline once lagage homelessness," he said. beled him "Dr. Tough Love," but he dislikes Marbut's approach is really a balance between that title. The approach he advocates is more two extremes that communities often use to like "smart love," he contends. battle the issue. "If people want to do something to be generOn one end, people to the left of the politi- ous, help those organizations that have a high cal spectrum sometimes will want to feed the success rate," Marbut said. homeless in parks and allow them to sleep in He has been surprised at how many nonprofits public spaces, he pointed out. are doing good work with shoestring funding, The other extreme wants to "arrest" a way out such as Family Promise, which operates on an of homelessness or create ordinances to make annual budget of $85,000. homelessness illegal. Goodwill — which employees 800 people, "The solution is not in jail, and it's not in about two-thirds of whom are disabled — is parks," Marbut said. another organization he regards highly, he He does not want to see homeless people pointed out, especially with its job training constantly incarcerated, nor does he want to and employment efforts. "coddle them." Still, Marbut said, "Family Promise and the "I will do everything I can to ensure people Harvest House are two of the best programs get into a program," Marbut said. "That is how I've seen. And they are doing all this good you get people off the street." work right under our noses." %

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