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New home to help homeless with developmental disabilities

Posted at 9:35 PM, Feb 08, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-08 21:35:06-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.  — A new concept to tackle homelessness is taking shape in West Palm Beach.

On Friday, Gulfstream Goodwill broke ground on a brand new home that will house people with developmental disabilities and keep them off the streets.

It’s called The Home at Tamarind and will be constructed at Tamarind and 20th Street.

Goodwill leaders said the cure to homelessness could be as simple as finding a home.

“We're going to provide them case management, employment services, education and training," Keith Kennedy, Gulfstream Goodwill CEO, said of the new project.

It'll house six homeless or near homeless people with developmental disabilities — including mental illness. The project has a total cost of $1 million.

“This a role model for the rest of the country to see," said Kennedy.

Eligible clients will be directed to the program in the first place through shelters in the city like the Lewis Center. Each person will be given the time they need to eventually live on their own.

“Get them to where they're in a place where they can move out of the home because they have moved into sustainable employment," said Kennedy.

Goodwill leaders said one of their biggest struggles in launching these projects is finding land. In this project, both the city of West Palm Beach and leaders with Palm Beach County contributed land to be used.

Kennedy, who recently moved from Atlanta to work for Gulfstream Goodwill, is all too familiar with the battle against homelessness and said those partnerships are important.

“As an outsider coming in, I believe the public-private partnerships that are occurring in this community rival any that I've ever seen in this entire country," he said.

We asked county and city leaders about the concerns over homelessness, particularly in the downtown area where crime involving homeless people have been reported in the past year.

The answer -- fund projects like this one.

"Palm Beach County dedicated over $100,000 funds for this project," said Palm Beach County mayor Mack Bernard. "We've been working to get more people off the streets and create more homes in Palm Beach County...we're going tackle it one place at a time, one section at a time."

Mayor Jeri Muoio said they're working to set aside land and help with permitting fees for organizations like Goodwill to solve these problems. The city also has two homeless engagement teams, one focusing on downtown and the other focusing on the rest of the city.

"So they're out there every day, talking with the homeless people and trying to get them into placement into programs, into a home," she said.

The city dedicated $250,000 of State Housing Initiatives Partnership (SHIP) funds toward The Home at Tamarind.

“We need to have more places for homeless people to live," she said. "And what we need to do is provide homes for these people. This is a start."

We're told it will take about nine months to a year for construction work. The facility should be open sometime in early 2020.