Law will provide funding to tackle homelessness

Governor Rick Scott held a bill signing ceremony on Friday in Orlando for Senate Bill 1534, which will provide funding for housing projects to serve homeless individuals, those with unique abilities, and disabled veterans.

"I think it's important that everyone in our state has the opportunity to live in affordable housing," said the governor.  "It's one of the things that is important to every individual; it's important to every family."

The new law will help local governments better serve the homeless in their communities.  "This legislation asks the leaders in local communities to have outcomes and measurable outcomes that show that people are getting housing," said Andrae Bailey, with the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, "and that's a big step if we are going to solve homelessness here in Central Florida and around the Sunshine State."

The law allows for more flexibility -- local leaders can now tap into funds toward rental assistance for those without a permanent roof over their heads.  "As the governor mentioned, this is a great place to live and people just can't wait to move here, but we have too many people who can't afford to live here once they get here, and that's why this flexibility is so important," said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs.

Though homelessness in Central Florida dropped 23 percent in just one year, officials say we still have a long way to go.  "We are judged as a society by how we care about people who are less fortunate," said  State Rep. Mike Miller, R-Orlando.  "This is a wonderful opportunity to help those who truly need help. If we can get them in a safe place and somewhere where they can get the wrap-around services, we can actually make a huge impact."