Please note: The City of Orlando and the Mayor’s Housing First Initiative does NOT provide direct services.
The Mayor’s Housing First Initiative is the City of Orlando’s response to homelessness by coordinating the efforts of various City agencies, including the Downtown Development Board, Housing and Community Development department, Economic Development department, the Office of Community Affairs and Human Relations, Orlando Police Department and others. The Mayor’s Housing First initiative develops best practice-oriented public policy for the City of Orlando, while guiding the City’s participation in ongoing regional planning activities.
Housing First is currently one of Mayor Dyer’s top priorities and the City is focused on a region-wide initiative with the goal of reducing chronic homelessness. As part of the strategy, the City, County, Federal Government, Homeless Service Network, Central Florida Commission on Homeless, the private sector, philanthropic community and many, local homeless service providers are all working together to implement a comprehensive plan.
Like never before, the system is working together by combining its resources and efforts in a targeted fashion to achieve transformational results. At the crux of our plan is the “housing first” strategy, which breaks the cycle of homelessness by providing permanent housing with an array of tailored supportive services. It is the national model for successfully housing the most vulnerable and difficult to house homeless individuals.
In late 2014, Mayor Dyer made a pledge to move 300 chronically homeless individuals and veterans into permanent, supportive housing by 2017. We’ve exceeded that goal.
In early 2017, we announced that we placed 385 chronically homeless individuals into permanent housing. And, across our region, we’ve placed more than 1300 people into permanent housing. Furthermore, we have been recognized by the White House, the Veterans Administration and The U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness of effectively ending chronic veterans homelessness.
What’s even more encouraging than the numbers themselves is that our housing-first model is working.
Our current homeless situation has lingered for decades and we are working as fast as we can on a final, long-term solution of actually getting the homeless off the streets and into housing with needed supportive services.
We are helping the true homeless get off the streets as quickly as the housing and services becomes available, but developing such housing and funding for services does unfortunately take time.
Give Smart and Help Create Real Change
We’re proud that Orlando is a compassionate community and recognize that many people give to panhandlers with the best of intentions – because they want to help them meet their everyday needs like clothing, food and personal hygiene. Unfortunately, this type of giving does not ultimately help the individual get off the streets and into housing. A text to give campaign has launched to help fund crucial services for the chronically homeless, with a goal of getting them into permanent supportive housing. The next time someone asks you for change, don’t give cash. Give with a smart heart and help create real change by amplifying your give alongside the donations of others by texting “Give Smart” to 85511.
Housing First Partners
Homeless Services Network
Homeless Services Network (HSN) of Central Florida is the lead agency for the Central Florida continuum of care. It provides Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funding for six jurisdictions including Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties and the cities of Orlando, Sanford and Kissimmee. Established in 1993, HSN has brought more than $50 million in HUD, Veterans Administration (VA) and state of Florida funds to Central Florida to provide assistance to the homeless. HSN funds programs that provide transitional and permanent housing, supportive services and ongoing case management.
Central Florida Commission on Homelessness
The Central Florida Commission on Homelessness was re-established as a non-profit organization in 2013, helping to bring advocacy and awareness to the conversation of homelessness in Central Florida. The Commission continues to inform and inspire the community to act on the issues facing homeless Veterans, families, youth and other homeless individuals. Their Cardboard Stories initiative, through the Commission’s Rethink Homelessness campaign, had wide-spread reach on social media and is credited with helping to place a compassionate face to the conversation of homelessness among the Central Florida community.
Services for Persons Who Are Homeless
Here in Central Florida, the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida is the lead organization that manages a coordinated system of care to serve Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties. This coordinated entry system includes a network of affiliated providers working together to mitigate homelessness. The prerequisite to services begins with an initial assessment that ensures the individual is captured in the local Homeless Management Information System (HMIS). This coordinated approach is crucial because it helps minimize the duplication of services among social services organizations, as well as tracks the status of services to an individual and documents previous or currently offered services. HMIS is a confidential system, which access only granted to authorized social service providers.
Providing Help for a Person Who is Homeless
Homeless Outreach Partnership Effort (H.O.P.E.)Team
As you come across individuals who may be homeless and you want to ensure that they are getting the services they need, the City of Orlando partners with the H.O.P.E. Team. A team comprised of caring individuals with specialized backgrounds, conducts homeless outreach services in Central Florida. This team goes to underpasses, throughout the downtown corridor, streets and other locations where homeless individuals gather. They also canvass streets in search of individuals without shelter. The H.O.P.E. team proactively works to locate individuals, but also responds to concerned citizens who believe an individual is homeless and in need of help. The H.O.P.E. Team can be contacted directly at 407.757.2914.
United Way 2-1-1
If you are homeless, or assisting someone who is homeless, there are several ways to enter the system of care which assesses, identifies and tracks assistance. Call 2-1-1 – The Heart of Florida United Way’s 2-1-1 hotlines serves as a 24-hour resource for individuals experiencing homelessness. 2-1-1 is designed to connect callers to a multilingual 2-1-1 specialist in the area who can put them in touch with local organizations that provide critical services to improve and save lives.
Homeless Assessment Hubs
Visit one of four hubs in Central Florida. A hub is a location where individuals and families who are literally homeless can come for a face-to-face assessment. There are hubs located in the City of Orlando and one in Longwood.
Location: Northland Church
530 Dog Track Road, Longwood FL 32751
HUB located in the Care Center
Days: Every Monday (excluding holidays)
Time: 1:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Location: United Against Poverty
150 West Michigan Street, Orlando FL 32806
HUB located suite D
Days: Every Friday (excluding holidays)
Time: 1:30 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Location: Health Care Center for the Homeless
808 West Central Blvd, Orlando Fl. 32805
HUB located behind Christian Service Center/Daily Bread
Days: Every Friday (excluding holidays)
Time: 9 a.m. – 12 p.m.
Location: (Veterans only) Lake Baldwin Outpatient Clinic
5201 Raymond Street, Orlando, Fl. 32803
HUB is located in Bldg. #503, Room B1007
Days: First three Fridays of every month
Time: 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
• Hubs are first come and serve until capacity is reached and provide assessments only and do not guarantee housing.
• The entire family does not need to be present, only the head of household.
• Documents to bring, if available:
• Valid Identification (driver’s license, state ID, Passport, etc.) for all adults
• Social Security Card for all adults
• Birth Certificates all children (if family) or proof of guardianship
Websites to Assist in Housing Location
The FloridaHousingSearch.org website was launched in June of 2006 and is sponsored by the Florida Housing Finance Corporation. The website was developed with support from a number of nonprofit and government organizations in Florida. The housing locator service allows people to locate available housing that best fits their individual and family needs. The service can be accessed online 24 hours a day and is supported by a toll-free, bilingual call center Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. EDT. Individuals can easily search for housing using a wide variety of search criteria with special mapping features and receive apartment listings that provide a multitude of important information about each unit. In addition, the site connects people to other housing resources through website links and provides helpful tools for renters such as an affordability calculator, rental checklist, and renter rights and responsibilities information.
Mental Health Services
If you or a family member is in crisis due to a mental health crisis, please call 911 and request the assistance of a CIT Officer or contact Aspire Health Partners at 407.875.3700.