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Florida House backs homelessness changes

File photo
File photo

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – In what is expected to be its last meeting of the legislative session, the House Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve a bill that would change the legal definition of homelessness.

The bill (HB 1353), sponsored by Rep. Thad Altman, R-Indialantic, would define homelessness to include people who lack fixed, regular and adequate nighttime addresses and who could imminently lose their primary nighttime residences.

The bill also would increase grants to combat homelessness from $500,000 to $750,000 and would reduce matching-fund or in-kind support requirements.

The grants are issued by the state Office of Homelessness, which also would get a slight makeover under the bill with the addition of two members: a representative from the Florida Housing Coalition and the secretary of the Department of Elder Affairs.

A House staff analysis said 29,717 homeless people were identified in Florida in 2018.

The bill is now slated to go to the House Health and Human Services Committee. It is similar to a Senate proposal (SB 1218), which was scheduled to be heard later Tuesday by the Senate Health and Human Services Appropriations Subcommittee.