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Issues and Voices that Matter August 11, 2011

Homelessness: A Community Conversation (#5)

Homelessness - A Community Conversation #5 (photo and graphic - CMF Public Media)In this fifth “conversation,” hear momentum build among service providers toward creating a collaborative initiative to better serve the homeless in Seminole County, Florida. The group says goodbye to Michele Saunders, director of community services for Seminole County Government and welcomes an expanded role for Steve Fussell, the county’s manager of business processes who will facilitate future meetings. Feature length - 36:20

(Produced, reported and edited by Stephen McKenney Steck)


CMF Public Media has been chronicling these “conversation” in a multipart series on homeless issues in the county. Links to the previous 4 meetings are posted below.

This podcast condenses almost 2-hours of discussion and decision making among 30-providers of services to the homeless in Seminole County as they address homeless issues with the possibility of $900,000 in public funding from county government coffers being directed toward supporting many of the proposed activities that county commissioners may approve in the next several months as a result of these discussions. This podcast was recorded on Tuesday, July 19, 2011, in a conference room at the Educational Support Center of the Seminole County Public School System.

In excerpted form, you’ll hear Michele Saunders review her last meeting. She’ll call for and you’ll hear comment about three strategies and associated activities to advance the collaborative plan. In Saunders her closing remarks, she offers an overview of how county funding might be applied to the issues addressed by the group. Saunders adjourns the “conversation” by forming 4 committees to begin the work of putting a full plan in place for subsequent group adoption. A link to the full 2-hour meeting is posted below. Helpful orientation information about certain elements of this “conversation” are provided in the “extended text” section

CMF has produced a companion podcast to this feature that presents relevant issues associated with this 5th group meeting. It’s titled — “Fallout and Followup.” A link to it is here and also provided below. This companion podcast includes fallout to CMF’s initiative to address Saunders’ resignation and our disclosing of the almost $1million dollars available in public funding for this project – neither of which Saunders had elected to formally address with this group until this 5th meeting. We also have a followup interview with Steve Fussell, the new county “point person” charged with facilitating this collective as it moves toward collaborative resolutions suitable to the county. You’ll hear Fussell offer further detail about the plans and respond to questions about firewalls preventing provider conflict of interest… merging this collaborative with other existing collaborative organizations….the persons to be involved with the project from the interim staff leadership at the county…and his August 4th presentation to the county commissioners updating them on the status of the project.

Additional Feature Information

Michelle Saunders, director, Community Services, Seminole County Government (photo - CMF Public Media)
Michele Saunders, director
Community Services, Seminole County Government

bio | website

Steve Fussell, manager, business processes, Seminole County Government (photo - courtesy Steve Fussell)
Steve Fussell
manager, business processes, Seminole County Government


Links to documents to which speakers refer:

Links to other podcasts produced by CMF Public Media featuring issues related to homelessness

Additional Pictures

Click on the picture(s) to enlarge.
Participants at Homelessness: A Community Conversation (#5) (photo - CMF Public Media) Participant at Homelessness: A Community Conversation (#5) (photo - CMF Public Media) Project consultant Thomas A. Bryer, Ph.D, assistant professor, Department of Public Administration, University of Central Florida (photo - CMF Public Media) Participants at Homelessness: A Community Conversation (#5) (photo - CMF Public Media)
Participant at Homelessness: A Community Conversation (#5) (photo - CMF Public Media) Participants at Homelessness: A Community Conversation (#5) (photo - CMF Public Media) Participant at Homelessness: A Community Conversation (#5) (photo - CMF Public Media) Participant at Homelessness: A Community Conversation (#5) (photo - CMF Public Media)
Participant at Homelessness: A Community Conversation (#5) (photo - CMF Public Media)

Extended Interview

Homelessness: A Community Conversation (#5) – full meeting audio
Length (01:43:33)


Extended Text

Within minutes of the opening remarks, speakers will address several issues in a manner which calls for a bit of background… essentially the issues are database management and a nascent faith-based initiative being advanced by Northland Church in Seminole County.

For the database discussion, you’ll hear the acronym “HMIS” spoken. It stands for “Homeless Management Information Systems,” a concept for storing on a computer homeless person data input by local case managers and service providers who use software for that purpose. You’ll also hear brand names such as “Resource Point” and “Service Point.” Those are software programs under the HMIS genre and are perhaps competitive application programs largely accommodating the same inputs. Finally, a software vendor “Bowman Systems” is mentioned. Bowman seems to be the provider of choice as they write the software for Resource and Service Point. Bowman may be called upon to aid in the creation or expansion of a potential collaborative data base management system, the subject of which is critical to this discussion.

The Northland Church initiative is a growing faith-based project for homeless support that – because of its potential scope and substantial volunteer involvement – seems to be developing as a parallel component in the “community conversation.” In a future podcast, we will feature the activities of Northland Church as they work county-wide with other religious leaders to collaboratively focus their resources and congregations to provide coordinated care to homeless students in Seminole County public schools.

Knowledgeable homeless service providers state that in 2010 between 700 and 900 chronically homeless people are on the streets in Seminole County. That number does not include the near homeless, the recovering homeless or public school students of homeless parents in Seminole County.

In the Orlando metro area – largely defined as the counties of Seminole, Orange and Osceola, Seminole represents approximately 20 percent of the overall homeless population, yet only 4 percent of the beds accommodating and sheltering such homeless people are located in Seminole County.

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