Homeless expert looking at south of Sarasota

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VENICE, Fla. - Hundreds came out to hear from the homeless expert hired by local governments to come up with a reduction plan for the area. Friday, Robert Marbut spokei to those looking for answers in the Venice area.

Marbut started his day out by touring the Center of Hope in Venice -- one of the few places in central Sarasota County where the struggling can get help.

"We can help an individual agency increase their capacity. How do you get more outcomes with using the same amount of money?"  Executive director Lynette McCleland says they helped more than 18,000 people last year alone. "On average we feed about 200 people every single Saturday that are either the working poor or are homeless."

Few options for those like Mark Hornick, who says he slept on the beach in Nokomis Thursday night. "There is really not a shelter down here. Not like the Salvation Army in Sarasota."

A need Marbut says but this part of the county is different. "Homelessness with families with children is way worse in south county that it is in north county."

By mid afternoon Marbut talking to hundreds at the Venice Community Center. Leaders, organizations, and residents from all over. Saying one idea he already has is some sort of facility for families to go other then the beach or woods. "If you could have it and put it in place this weekend you need it. We have families living out of cars right now in south county tonight and have nowhere to go. That is one of the most critical needs in south county."

McCleland says they're on board. "We could provide shelter for families and work towards case management and putting them back into some housing."

A willingness shown in numbers at the community center Friday. Marbut says he's never seen so many. Saying it's going to take just that to solve the problem. "There is so much work that needs to be done. We need every agency."

Marbut plans on spending the next few weeks in and around the area. He then hopes of coming up with an action plan for the entire county.