As the new year begins, and communities take stock of last year’s successes, it’s becoming clear that the Miami and Miami-Dade agencies that tackle the homeless problem are making significant strides.
Among the leaders in the fight is the Chapman Partnership, which just celebrated its 20th anniversary. Yes, it’s taken two decades just to get a handle on this prickly issue. Solving it altogether might take another 20.
“We’re working toward ending our job,” Carlos R. Fernandez-Guzman, Chapman Partnership chairman of the Board of Trustees, told the Editorial Board on Wednesday.
The number of homeless on our streets has dropped from about 8,000 at its height in the 1990s to the current numbers of between 800 and 1,000.
Much of the heavy lifting has come from the Chapman Partnership, founded by late Miami Herald president, CEO and corporate and civic leader Alvah Chapman Jr. Mr. Chapman was a hard-driving, get-it-done community champion.
When Miami-Dade was leveled by Hurricane Andrew in 1992, Mr. Chapman, with the Miami Herald as his clarion, launched the We Will Rebuild campaign. We rebuilt.
When homelessness, mainly in downtown Miami, became rampant, Mr. Chapman again stepped up and founded the partnership. He died in 2008, but his legacy lives on in the work of the homeless agency, which along with Camillus House is one of the two major entities offering shelter to the homeless every night.
Since 1995, the nonprofit has served exactly 103,401 homeless, as of Wednesday afternoon. “That number will likely go up tonight,” Partnership CEO H. Daniel Vincent proudly told the Board.
Thousands of Cuban exiles now stranded in Central America and headed our way may cause a new sharp jump in the numbers, but the agency says the county and the Homeless Trust, which funds 60 percent of the Chapman Partnership’s $14.3 million annual budget, are monitoring the latest exodus.
On a daily basis, the agency serves the homeless by providing housing, services for children and job placement; substance abuse help, job training and even dental work.
With a 64 percent success rate, the organization has placed many homeless in permanent residences or transitional housing — four times the national average. That’s an impressive record. Many are family with children. On any given day, there are more than 250 children living at a Chapman Partnership facility and attending public schools.
The organization believes the key to solving homelessness lies in empowering people with ways to become self-sufficient and contributing members of society through stable jobs and affordable housing. In 2016, finding the homeless good jobs — jobs that will provide a decent living wage — and also affordable housing in a now booming Miami real estate market are some of the objectives they will focus on.
Mr. Fernandez-Guzman also praises the community’s generosity for helping fund the agency and its work
“Miami’s philanthropic capacity is absolutely outstanding; its willingness to help and to reach out is beyond anything I’ve ever seen,” he said.
So happy 20th anniversary to the Chapman Partnership, and kudos to Miami-Dade givers. Let’s salute them and hope they continue their generous ways through the coming year.
Correction: An editorial on Tuesday incorrectly identified the director of the Florida Department of Corrections. She is Julie Jones. Also, the Office of Program Policy Analysis and Government Accountability says a hired private contractor conducted the prison study.