WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Following Friday’s stabbing on Clematis Street business leaders said more needs to be done to get people off the streets and onto a path of well-being.
“The businesses on Clematis Street, I understand their point," said Pastor Randy Hightower, president of PEACE, or People Engaging in Active Community Efforts.
But Hightower said it's easier said than done.
"There are no places for them to go," he said. “You can move them from place to place in the city but they are still coming back where they feel most comfortable."
While there are many programs in place throughout the Palm Beach County and the city of West Palm Beach to assist the homeless, Hightower said the Lewis Center on 45th Street is essentially the only place in the entire county where homeless persons can go to find a roof for the night.
“Our cost of housing has continued to escalate. And we haven’t been able to fill that void on affordable housing," said county administrator Veredenia Baker. “We’re doing things we have not done before. We’re on the right track, but this is a community effort."
Commissioners are looking into building a second shelter in the southern part of the county.
“Average apartment in Palm Beach County is almost $1,000," said Hightower.
At the same time, PEACE is also calling on them to consider another idea they have to solve this issue.
On Tuesday morning, PEACE members showed up in force at the commissioners meeting asking the county to consider creating a “housing liaison” position — focused on creating additional beds and housing options in the county.
“We went down to see how Broward County and Miami Dade County does it, and what a difference," said Hightower. "They have a person that does that and they’re really working on the homeless issue."
Latest homeless count numbers released this week show an 18 percent decrease in the homeless population from last year.