FOOD DRIVE PROGRAM
Providing Meals & Necessity Kits to the Homeless Community
The Miami Beach Food Drive & Necessity Kit Program of the Knights and Dames of Saint Lazarus of Jerusalem, Grand Priory of the USA is a domestic based program, located at the Church Saint Francis de Sales, in Miami Beach, FL.
While Miami Beach remains a prime and well established international tourist destination, well known worldwide for its luxury hotels, beautiful beaches and exotic cars, it is also the home of a large homeless population.
In January of 2010, only 3,832 people had been living either on the street or in shelters throughout Miami-Dade County. This decrease alone may not be entirely surprising when considering the moderate economic turnaround of the time, but what is potentially worrying about the numbers is their seeming immunity to the economic crisis during 2007 and 2008.
The number of homeless did not only not increase from 4,709 at the beginning of 2006, but in fact decreased to 4,392 at the beginning of 2007, and only increase in 2008 to 4,578 – still well below the number recorded before the recession.
This statistic, if taken at face value, seems to run against common logic when considering the massive economic hit this region took during that time. South Florida was affected particularly harshly by the economic recession of 2007, the largest one since the Great Depression of the early 20th century.
The region also ranked among the highest in the country in regards to home foreclosures, so for that increase to not also affect the total population of homeless people in the region is a definite worry for the validity of the data collected. Other metropolitan areas, such as New York City, have seen their numbers of people living in shelters reach record highs due to the crisis (more than 37,000 people in 2009). Such an increase is to be expected, and frankly, data showing the opposite may deservedly come under increased scrutiny.
But that is not to say that Miami-Dade was the only county that recorded fewer people believed to be homeless on a given night. In Los Angeles County, over 88,000 people were regarded as being without a permanent home in 2005, only to have that number plummet to just more than 48,000 in 2009.
These statistics seem to support the possibility of continued progress on the issues of homelessness in Miami-Dade, along with other regions in the country, despite particularly adverse times. And while the problem in Miami is only one-tenth the size of Los Angeles, it does not indicate that the problem is entirely nonexistent.
The areas where homeless tend to concentrate themselves into tend to ironically also be where some of the most affluent residents of the city live. Both Downtown Miami and Miami Beach are areas where you are most likely to come across a resident of the streets, not just in the fringes of Miami’s worse neighborhoods.
The Knights and Dames of Saint Lazarus are now offering “Necessity Kit” composed of a full non-perishable meal, a bottle of water, some soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, a shaver and a fresh tee-shirt. Those necessity kits are available upon request at the Church office of Saint Francis de Sales.
This program offers around 100 Necessity Kits per week, but the demand is estimated at about 170. The Grand Priory of the USA is working aggressively to reach this weekly goal.
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