SARASOTA, Fla. - Doctor Robert Marbut's work here is done, for now.
Four months ago, Marbut was hired to look at the area's homeless population and come up with ways for the community to solve the problem. He came up with a list of recommendations, and presented them to the public during a forum Monday night sponsored by the Sarasota Herald Tribune.
Marbut is recommending that the area open two new shelters. One, would be located in southern Sarasota County and focus on homeless children and families. According to the consultant, there are 637 children and 348 families who don't have a home in Sarasota County.
"That is by far off the charts," said Marbut.
Another shelter is proposed for the northern part of Sarasota County, and will focus on the area's chronically homeless. Marbut says it should be similar to Pineallas Safe Harbor.
"What you want to do is bring people in off the street and get people in programs," said Marbut.
Like Safe Harbor, the new shelter would serve as a jail diversion. Meaning, if a homeless person commits a petty crime somewhere in the County, rather than going to jail, the individual will have the option to go to the shelter.
"It's a good model. It looks like it has worked well," said neighborhood advocate Linda Holland.
For everything to work, Marbut says the community must work together.
"There is a lot of work ahead of us. We are ready to get started," he said.