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Volusia Safe Harbor

In 2014, the City of Daytona Beach tasked Dr. Robert Marbut, who has worked on homeless issues throughout the United States for over three decades, to develop recommendations to reduce street-level homelessness in our community. He submitted a comprehensive study of Volusia County's homeless population in September 2014 and an Action and Business Plan for First Step Shelter, submitted in November 2015. 

Dr. Marbut's findings in 2014 included:

  • Moderate climate initially draws homeless to our area.
  • An estimated 375-400 homeless individuals are located on the western side of the county and 400-475 on the eastern side of the county.
  • 50-60% of homeless individuals have major mental health issues and 70-80% have substance abuse issues. 90% of all homeless individuals have at least one or both of these issues.
  • To create a successful program, it is important to change the current "culture of enablement" to a "culture of engagement."
  • Feed programs alone don't address the root cause of homelessness.
  • When compared to other counties with similar populations, Volusia County has a relatively high number of “street feeders,” meal programs and church pantries.
  • Mental/behavioral health, substance abuse, job training and life skills need to be addressed.
  • Homelessness will likely increase dramatically if the current service model continues.

After submitting the initial study, Dr. Marbut worked with the community to develop the concept of First Step Shelter (FSS), a come-as-you-are, 24/7 services center for single homeless men and women. The VSH model uses compassionate, dignifying and respectful engagement activities and service partners to work as an integrated team to reduce the number of adults in Volusia County who are experiencing chronic and street-level homelessness. This "one-stop-shop" will improve the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery by co-locating and integrating homeless services at one location. Click here to view the VHS proposal with architectural drawings.

Minutes from monthly working group meetings.  
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