Private Grant Bolsters Police Homeless Program
The Virginia and Harvey Kimmel Family Foundation has committed $300,000 to the Delray Beach Police Department (DBPD) to better aid the homeless and expand the DBPD’s innovative Community Outreach Team. $100,000 will be dispersed to the homeless outreach program each year for three years, according to speakers who addressed funding and homeless issues at a February 1, 2022 news conference at St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church.
The Kimmels presented a check to Delray Beach Police Chief Javaro Sims at the church, where a specially equipped truck provides showers to the homeless community is located. Ezra Krieg, chair of the Delray Beach Initiative to End Homelessness and Perry DonFrancisco of the Delray Citizens for Delray Police, were among those on hand during the presentation.
Originally created in 2017 under the name C.A.R.E.S., the police department’s Community Outreach Team works to connect homeless people with the resources they need to change their life circumstances. The three-member team, comprised of two police officers and a licensed clinician, is responsible for engaging, counseling, and working effectively with vulnerable, high-risk individuals in the city’s homeless and recovery communities as well as individuals with behavioral health issues.
The Kimmel Foundation grant will enable the DBPD to add a social worker to the three-person unit. That additional team member will be designated to provide social services primarily to the homeless community and homeless prevention services to city residents.
“The Community Outreach Team has had an incredible impact,” said Krieg. “What we’re doing in Delray Beach should serve as a model for other municipalities in Palm Beach County, and possibly beyond the county. The Kimmels’ support is going to make them even more effective.”
The team helps connect the homeless with all types of resources. They may be as simple as ensuring that an individual experiencing homelessness has an address they can use to receive mail or apply for a job. In other cases, it may be making a wellness visit to someone in the community at risk of becoming homeless or following up with someone who has overdosed.
In 2021, the team successfully placed 70 people in shelters and 15 people in permanent housing.
“The Community Outreach Team was established to address the homeless, addiction and the mentally ill in our community,” said Chief Sims. “The team works at ground level, so it can truly understand the root causes and provide the necessary resources to make them whole again. We cannot continue to do the same thing and expect a different result. This is a community in distress and in need of assistance. We here at the Delray Beach Police Department aim to provide that relief. We are all community.”
“We do it differently because we do it hands-on, with no expectations, and never giving up on the individuals we are assisting,” said Ariana Ciancio, service population advocate for the department. “There is a strong need to increase the existing social and outreach services currently provided to our community by the Community Outreach Team.”
People face homelessness for a wide variety of reasons, from job loss to addiction or mental health. But when it comes to the issue of homelessness, Harvey Kimmel said, “People are usually responding to the symptoms, not the root cause, of the problem.”
“Harvey and Virginia Kimmel continue to make a tremendous impact on the quality of life for many diverse groups in Delray Beach,” said Perry DonFrancisco of Delray Citizens for Delray Police, another beneficiary of the Kimmel Foundation. “They have generously assisted many segments of the community. The list is lengthy but not limited to the arts and education, vocational training, police-community relations, senior health concerns, youth poverty, homelessness, hunger and so on. Their remarkable proactive generosity is a gift that benefits all the residents of Delray Beach.”
The Virginia and Harvey Kimmel Family Foundation began its philanthropic mission by giving to cultural and educational programs in Philadelphia. They expanded their giving to Delray Beach to include organizations in South Palm Beach County, starting with educational and cultural programming. In addition, they are interested in serious issues affecting the community, including hunger and homelessness.
The Delray Beach Initiative to End Homelessness was organized in 2016 by the Delray Beach Police Department and city staff to bring city officials, local agencies, service organizations and community leaders together to find solutions for homelessness through shared concern and collaboration.
Today, the collaborative organization has more than 100 members, including social service agencies, healthcare providers, religious organizations, other area nonprofits such as the Delray Beach Public Library, governmental entities like the DBPD and city of Delray Beach and concerned citizens.
For information about the Delray Beach Police Department Community Outreach Team, contact the DBPD Public Information Office at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling (561) 243-7841.
For more information on the Delray Beach Initiative to End Homelessness, visit Delray Beach Initiative to End Homelessness.com or contact email@example.com.