City of Miami Homeless Assistance Program

Misison

The Mission of the Miami Homeless Assistance Program (MHAP) is to provide Outreach, Assessment, Placement, Information, Referral and Transportation services to homeless individuals and families in a caring and professional manner and to employ and train formerly homeless men and women.

Outreach Project

In 1991, MHAP initiated an outreach project from trailers under the I-395 expressway in order to serve chronic homeless individuals living under Miami's bridges. Since its inception in 1993, The Miami Dade County Homeless Trust has contracted with MHAP to provide Outreach, Assessment, Placement, Information, Referral, and Transportation services to homeless individuals and families within the City of Miami jurisdiction. In addition, we provide Information and Referral services countywide. Programs throughout the United States have consulted with us about our innovative approach of hiring formerly homeless men and women and training them to network with private (Miami Rescue Mission, Betterway, New Life Family Shelter, etc.) and public agencies (local Police, Building and Zoning, Community Development Departments, etc.). Agencies that sought advice include: The Broward County Coalition for the Homeless, the cities of Clearwater, Miami Beach and Pompano Beach in Florida, Santa Barbara Coalition and the City of Los Angeles in California, the City of Seattle in Washington, the of Dallas, Texas and the City Administration of Kagoshima, Japan. Over the years, MHAP has received over 20 awards from local and national agencies.

MHAP currently employs Thirty (30) formerly homeless individuals as Community Outreach Specialists (COS). Teams of two COS network with the City's thirteen Neighborhood Enhancement Team Offices (NET). These offices carry out various community projects such as code enforcement actions, building condemnations and site clean-ups. MHAP assists homeless or near homeless during these operations.

To effectively track the services provided to the homeless population, we developed a computerized system. This system was utilized as a model for the Outreach component of the countywide Homeless Trust's MIS system.

We participate in bi-annual counts of homeless individuals on the streets and in shelters. This information is forwarded to the Miami-Dade Homeless Trust for documentation, and is used in the yearly gaps and needs analysis. We coordinate presentations by Miami-Dade's Community Service Centers and the American Red Cross to NET administrators in order to facilitate services to those being evicted. We provide statistical information and narratives regarding the demand, capacity, funding, unmet needs, and outlook of homeless issues in Miami for the annual United States Conference of Mayors Report on Hunger and Homelessness. We network with Jackson Memorial Hospital to establish and implement discharge procedures for homeless individuals, ensuring that they have an adequate supply of medication upon discharge and that the appropriate services (ancillary and/or housing) are provided. We also are operating a jail outreach program for those being released from Dade County Jail.

The Miami Homeless Assistance Program participated in the physical count of homeless individuals in the Federal Census 2000 and provided information regarding homeless issues in Dade County. We also provided a list of shelters, programs, and special housing where homeless reside.

The outreach plan of the Miami Homeless Assistance Program is as diverse as the population that we strive to serve. Recognizing cultural diversity, age and special needs of sub-groups are important elements, but the key to successful outreach is persistence.

MHAP staff applies personal knowledge and experience as formerly homeless individuals who are trained to engage and assess needs using the Dade County Homeless Trust's assessment tools. The assessment interviews determine appropriate referrals. Follow-up is facilitated via computer data collection and is a key element of this program. Communication with or visits to the programs where participants are referred are components to our follow-up procedures.

Day and night, seven days a week, our mobile outreach teams conduct outreach in a variety of ways. We visit sites such as abandoned buildings, parks, and search under bridges or expressways. We facilitate the needs to those requiring medical and psychiatric care, by arranging specialized intervention or transporting the individual to clinics or hospitals. We disseminate information and provide other services like transportation, food, trash-bags, blankets, clothing, and essential hygiene articles to homeless individuals. We are a key component in the plan to evacuate homeless individuals during weather emergencies. We distribute notices, provide needed supplies, and transport to Red Cross Shelters during these times.

In 2000, we established a street feeding project to coordinate the agencies feeding homeless persons on the street by identifying specific sites and developing feeding schedules. We provide toilets and trash receptacles, thereby ensuring cleanliness in a dignified environment. We are present to offer emergency services at these times.

MHAP will to continue to employ multi-lingual, formerly homeless, men and women. Training is focused on issues directly related to the diverse needs of the homeless population in Dade County.

MHAP trains formerly homeless persons as Community Outreach Specialists (COS) to engage, assess the needs, and provide services to the various homeless populations. Upon establishing a relationship of trust, we are able to link them to services within Miami-Dade's Continuum of Care System of Services to the Homeless. The COS are supervised by three bachelor level supervisors, all with extensive experience, knowledge and training in the Miami-Dade County Homeless Plan and services provided in the community. Two are Certified Addiction Professionals and one has a medical degree from his country of origin.

The Miami Homeless Assistance Program has been serving the homeless population within the City of Miami since 1991. At its inception, we primarily served Miami's Downtown Area. MHAP now employs 29 individuals and serves the entire City of Miami daily. In 1993, we were instrumental in the closures of major encampments in Downtown and Overtown that resulted in over 1170 individuals receiving services.

It is the MHAP policy to provide equal opportunity for all qualified persons and not to discriminate in hiring or terms and conditions of employment because of an individual's race, color, religion, sex, marital status, national origin, age, handicap, or sexual orientation.

Our goals are:

MHAP is a key component in a County-wide Continuum of Care System that includes emergency, transitional, and permanent housing. Our past yearly placements of homeless individuals and families are: