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Politics / Issues

Manatee commissioners approve a slate of initiatives to address homelessness

A county government building with American flag.
Manatee County Government
Among other items, commissioners directed county staff to work with the cities of Bradenton and Palmetto to develop a housing crisis response system.

The board held a special meeting Tuesday on homelessness and workforce housing.

Manatee County commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to create a new position for a program coordinator focused on the homeless, and to initiate a study with the Florida Housing Coalition to develop a housing crisis response system.

Commissioner Misty Servia called homelessness in Manatee County a "crisis."

"And we need to put our foot on the accelerator towards a solution," she said.

"No more kicking the can down the road. And there is federal money to help solve this problem that we're leaving on the table, and that is not acceptable."

Commissioners also approved the creation of a grant writer position to secure federal and state money available to address homelessness.

During the meeting, Chris Johnson, CEO of the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness, revealed that 67% of families seeking the agency's help are without a home for the first time.

"The reason we are here today," said Commissioner Carol Whitmore, "is because there is a major housing crisis. We can't find any affordable housing and its trickling down to homelessness."

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