Group looks to make changes in the way homeless services are used

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- The city and Sarasota County have been working for months to find solutions for Sarasota's homeless, taking into consideration the recommendations of homeless expert Dr. Robert Marbut. Now the Patterson Foundation is getting on board.

They want to rethink the homeless, taking a new approach by utilizing Dr. Marbut's recommendations. The foundation is implementing their initiative to help bring change by focusing on the organizations that already work with the homeless.

"As these organizations that are working on the Marbut plan are going to have to go through some organizational and operational changes, the Patterson Foundation recognizes that for change to happen organizationally, it doesn't happen without intent," says Michael Corley of the Patterson Foundation.

They will have six workshops, or what they call "labs", bringing agencies together to discuss where they may need to change the way they assist the homeless. "Let's help the organizations understand the change and then create an environment that they can discuss it among themselves, and then also implement a program to implement the change."

The program focuses on problem areas like enablement of homeless and the work each agency puts in, versus the effectiveness of their overall efforts.

Harvest House, a social service and homeless provider is already on board with receiving assistance and training. "From agency to agency, we do a pretty superb job. But collaborating, bringing them together, is really what is needed," says executive director Erin Minor.

From the directors to employees to volunteers in each agency, the goal is to focus on a system that works rather than making policy decisions. "The results they want to see in the end are good. To collaborate and to make sure that agencies have the same focus when it comes to how to engage the homeless."

On July 11th, the Patterson Foundation will launch the six labs and meet the consecutive first Friday’s of each month for 6 months with the agencies. Then in January allow the agencies to share what they've learned.