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Thanksgiving Is A Time To Give And Help

By Hallandale Beach Mayor, Joy Cooper

November 23, 2023

As we are celebrating Thanksgiving we need to remember those that are in need. Over the past year there seems to be continued issues for many of our neighbors that simply cannot make ends meet. Our City is one of the few that has its own Human Services Department with Social Workers on hand to help get much-needed assistance for those struggling.

Our Hepburn Center aids residents from 16 to 59 years of age. They can provide Emergency Assistance to help keep residents in their apartments and homes. They have Case Management Services and Referral Services for Rental Assistance, Emergency Utility Funding, Emergency Food Service and other needs. There is also Assistance for Healthcare through ACCESS Florida. They will help guide you through the Application Process Online for Food Stamps Medicare/Medicaid. The Center also has a Pantry that provides registered participants twice a month service.

Residents 60 and over are required to participate in an Intake Assessment Process. They need to provide Identity and Address, Proof of U.S. Citizenship or Legal Residency Status, Income Verification and other documents for the requested services. This is due to the fact that our Taxpayer Dollars pay for Senior Services and other County Services through the Aging and Disabilities Resource Center.

The Hepburn Center offers for those over 60 programmed activities from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. There is FREE Transportation to and from the center. Seniors can receive Breakfast and participate in many Classes, Trips, Arts and Crafts, Exercises and other Community Holiday Events. One of the top events is our Annual Thanksgiving Dinner where seniors share a served Thanksgiving Dinner and entertainment.

I often get asked questions about Homelessness in our City. While we have the Hepburn Center this issue is far more complex and involves our Police Department. The past year we have hired a Community Service Officer who has been going around documenting the Homeless. He has met the Chronic Homeless. Our Staff has been offering to take them to shelters so they can get off the street and get help.

We cannot force people to get help. We can however remind them they cannot Trespass on Private Property, cannot Block Sidewalks or Camp. Cities around that country have been grappling with the Homeless issues. They are beginning to change how they address the three groups of Homeless since the housing first model does not fit every person. They also are cracking down on simply allowing the homeless to camp out by arresting those that simply refused to get help.

After attending a day-long summit with mayors around the country it was truly eye opening. We all are realizing that what cities like San Francisco have done by giving out Needles, Food Stamps, and Providing Camp Sites is not working. While everyone is empathic they have found not forcing people to get help or simply leaving them alone is inhumane. The goal is to offer and if refused move along the next tool is arrest.

The main reason is two of the groups are those that need Medical and Substance Abuse Treatment and the other Mental Health Treatment. These individuals will not be able to maintain a house until they get treatment. Some Mental Health Conditions will require Long Term Treatment. The system of revolving doors needs to end. Orlando was the first to pass a Law to Arrest Homeless people that refuse to get help and the Law was upheld in an Appeals Court.

Arrest seems pretty drastic but in Broward there is actually a Homeless Court. This is where the individuals do not get an Arrest Record, but the Judge can compel them to enter services which they need or end up in Jail. Currently the closest Homeless Court is in Fort Lauderdale, but a new court is opening at the Hollywood CourtHouse.

This is a welcome addition since it takes hours for officers to travel and process these individuals. Mental Health Patience can be taken to Memorial but those with addiction must be taken to BARC. The goal will be to have all the wrap around services in one place.

Homelessness is not a new Social Condition. It has been recorded over thousands of years and even noted in both the Old and New Testaments. Dade has been Providing Services and Leveraging Federal Grants and assistance through the Homeless Trust. The Trust is funded through a 1 % Sales Tax on all Food and Beverage Sales at businesses that serve Alcohol and have Gross Receipts of over $400,000 Annually.

Years ago, a Gas Tax idea was floated in Broward but to date there has not been one dedicated Revenue to address the issues in Broward. Broward County has been addressing Homelessness through their Budget and Broward County Homeless Continuum of Care. They coordinate with a Network Of Service Providers in the County.

This issue is not for each City to tackle individually. This does not mean that we should not work with the county and do our part. I, along with Vice Mayor Anabelle Lima-Taub and Commissioner Michele Lazarow have been keenly following this issue. We know our residents and business owners have shared their frustrations. We will continue to work with our Staff and Commissioner Beam Furr to ensure we have Expanded Services in South Broward and Enforce Quality of Life Laws and Codes.

Wishing You A Blessed Thanksgiving Holiday!
As always please feel free to contact me anytime with your questions, concerns, and ideas to make our City a better place. I am available at: Or: On my Office number at: (954) 457-1318. Or my Cell/Text at: (954) 632-5700. You can always visit my Facebook and follow me at Mayor Joy Cooper.

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