The need for this project was identified after 22 homeless people were found to be living in a uninhabitable building, and had to be relocated after the building was deemed condemned. This situation proved to Sanford that resources for the homeless needed to be located and brought to light immediately. The creation of this Task Force is a grass roots effort initiated by Sanford’s Mayor, Chet Mann, and City Council members Byron Buckels and Charles Taylor. The intent of this initiative is to identify all existing resources in our community and bring those resources together to create a coordinated and comprehensive approach to end homelessness in our community. With this goal in mind, the three City officials reached out to staff to brainstorm about how to get such a task force started. This also included reaching out to partner with Lee County and the addition of Commissioner Cameron Sharpe to this “planning committee”.
Early on, the planning committee realized that none of us were experts on the issue of homelessness and recognized the need to reach out to an agency or organization that could assist in forming our vision for this task force. Enter Mr. Terry Allebaugh from the NC Coalition to End Homelessness. City staff had reached out to State agencies for guidance and through this process we found Mr. Allebaugh and his 30+ years of hands-on experience in dealing with the issues of homelessness. Terry will provide the foundation and primary guidance for the task force and staff as we move forward with this project.
The other challenge was how to engage the community and recruit for volunteers to serve on the task force. Many of you may recall, that the City conducted a homelessness summit in late February in our Public Works Service Center. This was a well-attended event and gave our first public notice that this initiative was kicking off.
Soon thereafter, we began the process of recruiting volunteers to serve on the task force and we received almost 30 responses. Some were chosen to serve on the task force, while others were asked to serve on a subcommittee. As envisioned, the planning committee wanted to create a core group that would serve as the lead steering committee that will guide the effort to “end homelessness in Sanford/Lee County”. The idea was to create a committee that would include a good cross-section of representation in terms of local agencies and citizens, while maintaining a reasonable limit in membership.
The 13-member Task Force. We agreed that a 13-member committee was a good balance to create a workable, productive committee. – Core tasks include the following:
- Establish the overarching goals and objectives of this initiative
- Initial work will be to lead the discussion to define these goals and identify preliminary objectives or measures that will assist in reaching stated goals
- Will meet (at a minimum) monthly to assess and review the progress of the initiative
- Define the subcommittees that will assist in guiding this process
- Lead the discussion to determine what subcommittees are to be created
- Task Force members will also serve on subcommittees and act as liaisons
- Make the final decisions regarding the actions of this initiative
- Vote, as necessary, to determine the path of action on key decisions as we move through this initiative to define the steps necessary to create and/or improve our homelessness support network.
The non-voting members of the Task Force. The planning committee also recognized that several applicants should have a key role on the discussions and direction of the task force, but may have conflicts of interest due to potential decisions on funding. As such, the selection committee recommended these persons serve on the task force, but do not have the ability to cast a vote. These persons are identified as being a technical resource who can provide valuable insight and assistance to the 13-member voting committee.
Role of the Subcommittees – The planning committee identified persons in this role that can provide expertise and/or input to a subcommittee that will focus on specific “to be determined” issues related to homelessness. Similar to the role of the non-voting members, subcommittee members will be tasked with providing input on specific issues as identified by the task force moving forward. At our initial meeting on June 1st, we identified the six essential subcommittees:
- Community Engagement
- Data and Metrics
- Low Barrier Shelter
- Resource Development
- Service Provision