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Group marches 15 miles across South Florida to raise awareness about homelessness

Posted at 10:17 AM, Mar 27, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-27 19:02:37-04

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Dozens of people marched 15 miles across South Florida on Wednesday to support helping the homeless.


The 'SleepOut 2019 March to End Homelessness' started at 8:30 a.m. at The Lord's Place, a non-profit organization in West Palm Beach that helps homeless people find life-changing services like treatment, food, and shelter.

Later in the morning, West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio and The Lord's Place CEO Diana Stanley addressed the marchers at City Hall.

The group went through downtown West Palm Beach and eventually ended up in Lake Worth Beach. Along the way, they held rally signs and raised support for homeless people in our community.

The route consisted of the buildings and centers operated by the non-profit.

The march also promoted the upcoming 2019 SleepOut which raised $600,000 last year, according to Stanley.

Stanley said the non-profit is not a shelter, and street engagement teams work six days a week to identify members of the homeless population and educate the public on a range of social services.

But Stanley added that drastically reducing the number of homeless people living in Palm Beach County takes more than money and time.

"It can take weeks, it can take months," Stanley said. "There’s been times we’ve taken a whole year for someone to finally trust us enough to say, I’m ready to leave the streets."

One of the people The Lord's Place has helped is Mark Reed who was homeless in 2012. Reed, a student at Palm Beach State College, enrolled in the non-profit's apprenticeship program and received housing placement. He’s also working on a degree in business and encourages members of the homeless population to understand that getting off the streets takes both effort and time.

"It’s a process," Reed said. "Everything is not in a day."

Mayor-Elect Keith James released this statement Thursday about combating homelessness:

"The Homeless issue is a problem that extends beyond the boundaries of any one city. There is no quick or easy solution to the growing rate of homelessness. It is going to take a coordinated and collaborative approach with input and support from community partners and other agencies. I support the mission of the Lord’s Place and the work they do in the community as well as with West Palm Beach. As Mayor, I am planning on making the homeless issue a top priority and implement a 6 point plan that I have created. Our goal is to provide the services and resources the homeless need to either get medical treatment, a job or housing. However, this needs to be balanced with enforcement measures that protect the rights of citizens and private property. I will put in place community ambassadors that will oversee consistent welfare checks on the homeless as well as ask private businesses to sign anti-trespass affidavits. Our focus is enforcement, support and safety."

The Lord’s Place 12th Annual SleepOut will take place on April 5 at the United Methodist Church of the Palm Beaches, located at 900 Brandywine Rd. in West Palm Beach.