Sarasota vows to help homeless veterans

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SARASOTA, Fla. -- The City of Sarasota is starting a new initiative to help our homeless veterans get off the streets, find jobs, and start new lives.

In Sarasota County there are 127 homeless veterans. In the City of Sarasota: 60 homeless vets. It's now the city's goal to remove those vets from the streets, and provide them with the help they need.

The announcement was made Friday morning during a news conference at Sarasota City Hall. City manager Tom Barwin said it is the city's goal to get all those vets the care they need within the next year.

To do that, the city has hired a mental health professional case worker who will be leading teams around Sarasota -- meeting with homeless vets on an individual basis.

The man hired, Calvin Collins, is an Army veteran himself.  “It fulfills a lot for me because it puts me back in the military. These are my friends and family.”

Collins will lead the effort by speaking with the vets one on one, getting them involved in programs, and hopefully in the long run, finding them jobs and a permanent roof over their heads.  “It's going to be a mighty process. It’s not something that can be cleaned up in a day or two. I think if we are relentless, and we pick up our tenacity, we can make a difference.”

Barwin says the new initiative in no way conflicts with Dr. Robert Marbut's recommendations. Marbut, a consultant on homelessness, was hired to help the area resolve its situation.

Meanwhile, the city and county are still in talks to build a homeless shelter in the future.