You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to myPalmBeachPost.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks

X

Welcome to myPalmBeachPost.com

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on myPalmBeachPost.com.

Palm Beach County wants state help with homelessness, opioid epidemic


Santa Claus has come and gone, but Palm Beach County officials made a list, checked it twice and are hoping the state government will determine its priorities aren’t naughty but nice.

Certainly, those priorities and wish list items aren’t cheap: Commissioners and legislators from the county met at the Palm Beach County Convention Center Wednesday to go over the fine points of a $47 million wish list that includes money for beach restoration, Loxahatchee River preservation and a variety of smaller-scale projects.

In addition to requests for specific projects, commissioners and area legislators agreed on a series of policy areas where they want the state to take action.

That includes the exploding opioid epidemic and the proliferation of unregulated treatment facilities and sober homes. The Palm Beach Post has written extensively on both topics. Elected officials noted The Post’s coverage and called on the state to step in with help.

Homelessness in the county and the paucity of affordable housing were major areas of focus for commissioners and legislators Wednesday.

Commissioner Melissa McKinlay and other officials have been working to assist some 70 households in Belle Glade that were displaced last month when the buildings where they lived were condemned.

“I’m surprised anybody was living in them,” said McKinlay, whose district includes the Glades.

The county does not have a place to provide long-term housing for those displaced by condemnation and has long pushed for more beds for its homeless population.

“The county is experiencing a growing problem with homeless students, seniors and veterans,” according to a county report commissioners and legislators reviewed Wednesday. “For example, there are approximately 3,200 homeless students in PBC public schools, with 3,000 homeless Palm Beach State College students living in their cars.”

The county expects to get $810 million over the next decade through the penny-on-the-dollar increase in the sales tax that went into effect Sunday. Some $31 million of that money is slated for affordable housing and efforts to combat homelessness.

If the state passes legislation expanding gaming in Florida, the county wants some portion of that revenue set aside for homeless services.

The county also would back an expansion of taxing authority to allow local governments to seek voter approval for a sales tax increase that would be used to pay for homeless services.

County Administrator Verdenia Baker said the problem of homelessness “is one that is pressing, more than ever.”

“We don’t have the housing to cycle them through,” she said. “This is not just a government responsibility. It’s a community responsibility.”

Other issues included the following:

Clerk fees: With the Clerk and Comptroller’s Office of Palm Beach County under financial strain, the county wants to see the $65 mandatory fee applied to civil cases as they are in criminal cases.

Adults With Disabilities: The county wants the Legislature to restore statewide money for the Adults with Disabilities Program back to $10 million. It was cut to $750,000, and five area agencies — Palm Beach Habilitation Center, Boca Raton Habilitation Center, Seagull Services, ARC of Palm Beach County and Jeff Industries — lost a combined $709,481.

The loss of that money cost some staff members their jobs. Some disabled residents also lost jobs and training opportunities, according to information compiled by the county.

Uber, taxies: Legislators failed last year to come up with a uniform statewide policy regulating taxi companies and firms like Lyft and Uber, and county officials said they want the state to try again.

The 2017 legislative session convenes in Tallahassee on March 7, but drafts of general bills and joint resolutions must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Jan. 27.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

JUST IN: Man dead after thrown from I-95 ramp in motorcycle crash
JUST IN: Man dead after thrown from I-95 ramp in motorcycle crash

A 19-year-old is dead after he was thrown from an Interstate 95 ramp when his motorcycle crashed Tuesday night in West Palm Beach, according to the Florida Highway Patrol. Jaquari McCormick of West Palm Beach was on the southbound exit ramp to Palm Beach International Airport just before 9:30 p.m. As he drove the 2004 Suzuki on the curved part of the...
Surprise! Wellington cancer survivor, 8, gets day with Astros pitcher
Surprise! Wellington cancer survivor, 8, gets day with Astros pitcher

Drew Dawson got all of it. The toss from Houston Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. smacked off the 8-year-old’s bat up the middle of the field and he was already running. He finished a full sprint rounding the bases with a slide into home and a big smile on his face. McCullers joked that he hung a change-up and Drew’s mother, Tristan Dawson...
NEW: Lake Park man pleads guilty to trying to help ISIS
NEW: Lake Park man pleads guilty to trying to help ISIS

One of three Palm Beach County men charged in July with conspiring to provide material support to the Islamic State pleaded guilty Wednesday to federal charges. Dayne Christian, 32, of Lake Park, pleaded guilty in federal court in West Palm Beach to conspiring to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, in connection with...
Florida woman refuses to leave Waffle House, asks to go to jail
Florida woman refuses to leave Waffle House, asks to go to jail

Sometimes the Waffle House is so good you just don’t want to leave. According to NWF Daily News, an unnamed 39-year-old Crestview woman argued with a Crestview Police officer when he asked her to leave the restaurant. The woman refused to leave the premises, ignoring the officer’s three requests and forcing him to attempt to escort...
Police identify infant who died due to unknown reasons
Police identify infant who died due to unknown reasons

An infant who was found dead under unknown circumstances was identified Wednesday by Fort Pierce Police. The boy was identified as Aiden Leslie, who was 5 months old. Aiden was taken to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center unconscious and unresponsive on Sunday night. He was later transported to St. Mary’s Medical Center, where he died Tuesday. The...
More Stories