PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — In a quiet Lake Worth community on Mee Ct. you’ll find Donald Burgess not missing a beat.
“My spirits are up. I’m good,” he explained.
Looking at his home and his smile it would be difficult to tell that he was once homeless.
“They gave me a roof over my head, and a bus ticket,” Burgess said.
All of the people in Burgess’ community have two things in common. They’re all former homeless veterans.
“We provide a lot more than a typical property out there we give all of our veterans' electric water, cable everything,” Jeff Meiselman said.
Meiselman is one of a hundred or more landlords in the county’s S.M.A.R.T landlord program, helping connect the homeless to housing.
“Smart landlord stands for support, marketing, assistance, rent, and tenant.”
The county provides the tenant with a case manager to help with the transition.
“We advocate with landlords, sometimes that stigma of them having mental health issues separates the communication between the landlord and the tenant.” Gloria Goolsby said.
Goolsby works for “FARTHER” Outreach, a faith-based non-profit.
“Which is always beneficial because if we have an issue with the tenant we’ll go to the tenant speak to them about it and if they don’t comply we simply email or call the case manager,” Sonny L., a local landlord said. They get involved and they typically do comply at that point.”
County Administrator Verdenia Baker says part of the $6 million plan to open a temporary emergency homeless shelter at a former correctional facility near the fairgrounds includes around one million for the S.M.A.R.T landlord program.
“Our goal is to get people in, access them, wrap the appropriate social services around them and move them into housing so that others can continue to flow through,” Baker said.