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Florida needs to invest in the homeless

Earlier this month, New York City made an agreement with the state to draft two rent subsidy plans to homeless families in an effort to provide them with housing and necessary services. 

According to the New York Times, the first program will provide $80 million over four years to homeless families where at least one of the family members holds a full-time job, while the second plan will cost a projected $59 million over four years to families who have relied on the city’s homeless shelters. 

The New York City initiatives are expected to benefit the 11,441 homeless families with children, as reported by WNYC News. The plan has garnered widespread attention due to the large scale of New York City, serving as a model for smaller cities. 

The Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative, an organization that works with the public to end homelessness in Hillsborough County, reports nearly 17,755 men, women and children are living on the streets, in shelters or with family and friends, 23 percent of which are children. 

The homeless population in Hillsborough County remained virtually unchanged between 2013 and 2014, with a decrease of only 32 people who are literally homeless, people living on the streets or in shelters. Instilling a similar policy to that of New York City will not only get homeless children off the streets and into safe homes, it will have a significant impact on taxpayers. 

Earlier this year, the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness released a study stating that those who live on the streets cost Florida taxpayers $31,065 a year. This is used to fund shelters, jails, hospital visits and mental health care for homeless individuals. 

The same study found that it would only cost Floridians $10,051 a year to provide permanent housing and public services to the homeless population, saving $350 million over the next ten years. 

In comparison to the subsidy plan in New York, the Florida tax statistics demonstrate the potential benefit of providing for the homeless population instead of ignoring their presence in the community. 

On a smaller scale, Community Solutions, an organization that aims to eradicate homelessness nationwide, instilled the 100,000 Homes Campaign in 186 cities across the country. The campaign helped provide housing to 105,000 families and found the majority of families were capable of holding steady jobs and remained in housing. 

As the Hillsborough County homeless population remains steady, government and city officials should look to cities such as New York City, who have set a precedent for the nation. Creating a wide-reaching arrangement with the intent of abolishing homelessness will not only provide families with a chance to reestablish themselves, but will also be economically efficient for the community as a whole. Neglecting an entire population of people is not a solution. 

Brandon Shaik is a senior majoring in psychology.