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The Leon County Sheriff is launching a new program to help address local homelessness

A person with their back to the camera sits midway down an outdoor staircase. Other people can be seen in the shade in the distance
Patrick Sternad
WFSU Public Media
Residents sit outside for a midday smoke at the City Walk Church and homeless center in Tallahassee, Fla.

The Leon County Sheriff’s office is launching an initiative this month aimed at addressing homelessness. Two new deputies, will make up the HOST or Homeless Outreach Street Team.

We all understand that homelessness is a very complex issue and we also understand too that we cannot solve it with a law enforcement response," said Assistant Sheriff Argatha Gilmore. "But if we work together and we collaborate together we certainly can make a difference to reduce the impact of homelessness in our area.”

Gilmore updated Leon County Commissioners on the new initiative during their Tuesday meeting. She said the goal is to create a law enforcement presence that supports efforts already in place by organizations like the Big Bend Continuum of Care.

“We will be a force multiplier as we take on this initiative that the sheriff has laid out for our county," Gilmore said.

Gilmore said the first priority of the HOST deputies will be education and connecting unhoused people with any needed resources, "however, if the education and encouraging do not work, the HOST deputies, they are prepared to evaluate the circumstances, develop probable cause if needed and then move forward with criminal enforcement.”

The project’s official launch date is June 20. The sheriff’s department plans to return to the county commission in six months to review the program and consider any needed changes.

Follow @Regan_McCarthy

Regan McCarthy covers healthcare and government in Tallahassee, Florida. She is the Assistant News Director for WFSU Public Media.

Phone: (850) 645-6090 | rmccarthy@fsu.edu

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