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Final report Tallahassee shelter study released

The Shelter
Posted at 9:00 AM, May 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-09 13:23:18-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Shelter and the United Way of the Big Bend are releasing findings from a major study about the homeless center's operations.

The report, compiled by consultants, includes 12 recommendations. Nearly half are related to the function of the shelter's board of directors. The other five are aimed at improving The Shelter's operations.

In the report, the focus is mostly on improving the quality and quantity of staff and board members, and ensuring that The Shelter helps the homeless become more independent.

The United Way has suggested that The Board focus on the following four steps in an effort to align with the plan outlined in the study.

  1. Evolve the mission of The Shelter to limit the time any individual can use its facilities – to more actively transition homeless people toward independence
  2. Determine appropriate location for a new facility for The Shelter – one that will be large enough to include wrap-around services for clients, as part of the pathway for transition out of homelessness
  3.  Develop a policy by which The Shelter works with other providers, agencies and government to help create a path out of homelessness for its clients
  4. Strengthen The Shelter’s professional leadership, staff – with additional emphasis on an expanded role for board management, participation, and involvement

“The report’s most relevant and important recommendations are being embraced by United Way and The Shelter -- and we expect to help build broad community support for changes The Shelter will implement that make a real difference,” said Heather Mitchell, president of UWBB. “We are heartened by this opportunity to help evolve The Shelter to an even higher plane of service.”

Debbie Holt, chair of The Shelter’s board of directors, similarly reflected on the action steps being taken to improve the organization’s operations and policies.

“Our board is committed to creating a positive plan to move forward and strengthening The Shelter’s ability to serve more effectively,” said Holt. “We are always mindful of the responsibility to adjust and adapt to best practices that set even higher standards for our practices and outcomes.”

The report was composed and researched by Dr. James Wright and Dr. Amy Donley, authors of Poor and Homeless in the Sunshine State: Down and Out in Theme Park Nation. They are both employed in the University of Central Florida's Institute of Social and Behavioral Science.