Mayor says new appointment will help homeless problem
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — West Palm Beach Mayor Keith James announced the appointment of Marcus Laws as the city’s new Homeless Services Coordinator.
James says the creation of the position is another big step in breaking the cycle of homelessness and keeps the mayors promise of addressing the growing issue in West Palm Beach.
From 2018 to 2019 the homeless population declined by 25 percent, according to the mayor.
The city wants to keep the momentum going, but face a huge challenge moving forward. Mayor James says homeless people from other parts of Florid and even other states move to West Palm beach adding the homeless population.
“Today the City of West Palm Beach takes a giant step towards addressing the issue of homelessness,” James said.
The city’s strategy is to address the issue head-on.
First through a partnership that created on street mental health services.
“The goal? To meet the homeless that are mentally ill. Where they are,” said James.
Later this month, through the ongoing “300 in 3″ campaign, the city will open a new apartment building with 87 units of affordable workforce housing.
On Tuesday, the mayor announced the city’s new Homeless Services Coordinator Marcus Laws.
“He will provide strategic guidance for resource allocation, establish community connections and maximize our outreach efforts,” Mayor James said.
Before joining the City of West Palm Beach, Laws worked for The Lord’s Place.
He served as the Outreach and Engagement/ First Housing Supervisor.
The Lord’s Place is a social impact agency aimed at serving vulnerable populations.
“Now that you’ve taken this role what is the first thing you that you want to accomplish?” Asked CBS12 News Reporter Stefany Valderrama.
“The first thing that I want to accomplish is that I want to have each agency, that is involved with homelessness issues, to come together so we can be a collective,” Laws told CBS12 News. “My focus is on building partnerships that produce positive outcomes. That produces outcomes relating to mental and physical health services. Increasing the affordability of workforce housing and increasing economic development within the communities that are underprivileged and underserved.”
Laws knows from experience you have to start from the ground up in making changes that matter.
“Our focus is how can we go further and make this system work better for us and for those who actually need help,” he said.
City leaders also announced they are working on a first responder compassionate initiative.
According to the mayor, it’s supposed to help educate first responders about how to talk to vulnerable communities, including the homeless. He says when first responders can compassionately communicate it helps the homeless feel at ease, which in turn helps first responders get them the help they need.