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The Homeless issue has become a huge conflict within Datyona Beach and the county.  Multiple viewpoints colide everyday about what the issues are, how they can be solved and as with most things, how to pay for solutions.



City Island

Manatee Island



Ads about meetings to set the millage (tax) rates local governments will impose and media reports of rates that are lowered or raised over the roll back rate (what it takes to bring in the same amount of money as last year) may pave the way for a big surprise when the tax bills follow up in November.

The municipal millage rate is only part of what you pay in property taxes. As news stories often report, a house valued at $150,000 after any exemptions are taken, equals $900 in property tax at 6 mills. But the actual tax you pay includes that $900 AND the millage levied by Volusia County, the School District and a number of special districts, like Halifax Hospital, the St. Johns Water Management District, Port Authority and various special districts. In most areas the total millage rate runs more than 20 mills, which means that for that $150,000 taxable value (your assessment less homestead and any other exemptions), your bill would be $3,000.

Below is a link to a spread sheet showing how millage rates have varied over the last decade in major East Volusia cities and the other taxing districts most taxpayers support. For Daytona Beach, Port Orange, Ormond Beach and Holly Hill, the amount collected by the cities is shown.

Most public hearings on tax rates are concluded, but if, you believe the assessment notice sent by the Property Appraiser has not fairly valued your property, it would be a good idea to call Property Appraiser Morgan Gilreath’s office right away. When you’ve got a solid argument, the office can usually get it fixed with little fuss and bother. Call 822-5717 to explore your options. One of those options may be to go before the Value Adjustment Board, which will have just one more meeting this year.

For information on that process and questions you may have, call the Deputy Clerk at (386) 740-5164.

Millage rate variations 10 Years


Conventional wisdom has it that “the World’s Most Famous Beach” and the Volusia County economy are inextricably linked. Politicians and promoters expound at length on our dependence on the image and appeal of the sand and sea as an economic engine.

To look at the factual base on which all this discourse is based, GovStuff undertook a search that involved Evelyn Fine, whose firm is long time researcher-in-chief for tourism related data, and others who have contributed to our understanding of what sustains Daytona Beach and Volusia County.

To our surprise, the only solid data gathering dust on the shelf turned out to be a 14 year old study of the economic value of those from surrounding areas who make day trips to enjoy the beach. Headed by UCF professor Mark Soskin with colleague Bradley Braun as a contribution to the then (and now) current debate over beach driving, the study debunked the conventional wisdom that those from neighboring counties are a cash crop that would disappear if beach driving were banned.

The bulk of the study seems as applicable today as it did in 2002. Click the link below to review it. And if anyone knows of studies that quantify the value of the beach, we’d like to hear about them and share them here as well.

Soskin Study


The County’s Continuum of Care, a quasi-official body mandated by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Affairs to evaluate needs and direct channeling of tax dollars to qualified programs has reinvented itself into a Commission on Homelessness that may or may not be in compliance with a HUD governance charter. Member Shannon McLeish this week fired off an email to all members raising questions and, if nothing else, providing some perspective on the issues. That email was followed by responses from Judge Belle Schumann, who has earned through her efforts the right to be respectfully heard, and former Ponce Inlet Mayor Nancy Epps. Click the link below to read the correspondence.

McLeish Letter and responses


DeLand City Commission took a positive step by unveiling a plan to expand its Neighborhood Center with more crisis shelter beds and a day care center proposed to offer a wide range of services, from health to job counseling. The plan was spelled out, along with an overview of current activities countywide, in a this slide presentation.

Deland Proposal


The Salvation Army has issued a report on its Bridge Bed Program (follow link on the Homeless posts under Issues on this site) which seems to take credit for more than $116,000 in cost-savings through a reduction in arrests in the first quarter of 2016.

Bridge Bed Report


After a bumpy 2015 in which its role, membership and effectiveness were called to account, the Volusia/Flagler Continuum of Care Committee has adopted a new name and added new members focused on increasing its role in resolving issues of homelessness in 2016.

In a press release (below) issued at the end of February, the group announced it had switched its name to Volusia/Flagler Commission on Homelessness. It will continue to receive staffing and Collaborative Applicant support from the Volusia/Flagler County Coalition for the Homeless and that entity’s new executive director Jeff White. The Commission is required by Federal Law to exist to prioritize and authorize expenditure of Federal funds of all kinds designated for homeless services in the two county area. At the same meeting approving the name change, Sam Willett was elected chair by the 24-member all volunteer group, which welcomed several new members described in its release.

Meetings of the Commission are open to the public. A schedule of its meetings and the press release can be found using these links.

Meeting Schedule Press Release


When a homeless encampment was disbanded by police intervention in front of the Volusia County Services Building in downtown Daytona Beach, the Salvation Army accepted many of those displaced for temporary shelter, while others were sent to appropriate housing in the area and some opted to refuse the assistance and find shelter on their own. It wasn’t a hit or miss dispersion. The Salvation Army and others use a set of guidelines called Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (SPDAT) and its companion the Vulnerability Index- Service Prioritization and Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT). The working manual for the tool can be read by clicking the link below.

The HEARTH Act and federal regulations require communities to develop a mechanism for common assessment and coordinated access. The Vulnerability Index-Service Prioritization and Decision Assistance Tool (VI-SPDAT), adopted by the Salvation Army here, is a street outreach tool currently in use in more than 100 communities. Rooted in leading medical research, the VI helps determine the chronicity and medical vulnerability of homeless individuals. The Service Prioritization Decision Assistance Tool (SPDAT), developed by OrgCode Consulting, a Canadian firm operating worldwide, is an intake and case management tool in use in more than 70 communities.

The average community currently allocates housing resources on a first come-first served basis. Individuals and families take their place at the bottom of endless waiting lists, regardless of their chronicity, medical vulnerability, acuity, or ability to address their own housing instability. The result is often akin to an emergency room devoting its costliest resources to a common cold patient while leaving a late-arriving heart attack victim to fend for him or herself. By contrast, the VI-SPDAT allows communities to assess clients’ various health and social needs quickly and then match them to the most appropriate-- rather than the most intensive-- housing interventions available. In some cases, the VI-SPDAT may help make the case for Permanent Supportive Housing. In other cases, it may encourage practitioners to choose Rapid Rehousing or a simpler affordable housing intervention. Because the tool is rooted in exhaustive research and based on over 160 studies and scholarly articles, service providers can be sure that the recommended intervention is an appropriate path for the client in front of them. The VI-SPDAT takes the pressure off of service providers to make difficult, emotionally fraught decisions and reframes the moment of assistance as an opportunity to match each client with the best housing and service options for his or her individual needs. In an environment of increasingly limited resources, it also helps communities avoid “subsidy overkill” by targeting their most intensive supports toward those who research shows will not make effective use of a lesser subsidy.

Evaluation Manual


Healthy Volusia data brief examines life expectancy rates in Volusia County

For Immediate Release: Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Contact: Stefany Strong, PIO, 386-274-0838

DAYTONA BEACH – The Florida Department of Health in Volusia County has issued a data brief that takes a closer look at life expectancy rates in Volusia County

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines life expectancy as the average number of years that would be lived by a group of individuals until their death. The most commonly used definition is life expectancy at the time of birth (LEB). LEB is a calculation of age groups, year specific population, number of deaths and the number of person years lived.

“Now that we see our life expectancy rate in Volusia County, it is important for us to do what is needed to stay healthy,” said Dr. Bonnie J. Sorensen, director of the Florida Department of Health in Volusia County. “Having a healthier lifestyle includes eating nutritious meals and getting regular physical activity.”

Life expectancy is often used to describe the overall health status of a population. Life expectancy in Florida has trended downward from 2009 to 2013. Volusia County has also trended downward, but at a steeper slope than Florida.

Some highlights include:
Hispanics in Volusia County have the longest life expectancy of all groups in 2013 with 81.6 years; 5.0 percent longer than whites residents (77.7) and 6.5 percent longer than black residents
White residents have the longest life expectancy in both the Northeast and Southwest quadrants
Blacks had the shortest life expectancy in each of the four quadrants except for the Southwest Quadrant
Volusia County residents had a life expectancy at birth (LEB) of 77.7 years in 2013
Volusia County females (80.5 years) had a longer life expectancy than males (75.0 years ) in 2013

For more information, please visit our website below
Life Expectancy in Volusia County Volusia Health Website


Background for County Decisions

On March 3, County Council received a detailed slide show with supporting documentation on programs dealing with homelessness over the last five years. To see the slides, click here, and for the supporting data, click here.

City Proposed Safe Harbor Interlocal Agreement

Homeless Children by location - In debates on how best to reduce homelessness, the need of children to grow in a true "home" environment drives emphasis being placed nationally and in Florida on providing long-term housing for families as the first step in comprehensive assistance. In Volusia County, though the numbers change from day to day, more than 1,500 school-age kids head to classrooms each day from the streets, back seats of cars or temporary shelter. This table shows the number enrolled on January 25th, by the city where their schools are located, which may not be where they are actually staying. That 22% of the homeless youth are identified with Daytona Beach is no surprise, but that roughly 13% are identified with Deltona, DeLand and Port Orange casts doubt on the claims of some leaders that their cities have no homeless issues. See the data here.

Tresspass - One measure of the dimensions of Volusia County's homeless "problem" is whose problem it is. Daytona Beach and Volusia County have let it escalate as their managers and elected leaders point political fingers at each other, while other areas disavow homeless populations. One measure of where and how many homeless might be found is the number of arrests made for trespass, the charge commonly placed on homeless people camping or loitering in restricted areas. This table shows there were 1,541 trespass arrests made last year. 68% of the arrests occurred in Daytona Beach, which has about 12% of the county's population.. Volusia's largest city, Deltona, is not shown on the list because its policing is done by the Sheriff's Department and arrests within its boundaries would be included in the 125 total reported by that department countywide. Not all were homeless persons, and the numbers are skewed by multiple arrests of the same individuals, but not enough to change the picture. See the data here.

An idea from  Albuquerque


Instead of giving citations to homeless people for panhandling, Albuquerque passed a new initiative that allows them to earn money for jobs in the city.

Archive of previous Homeless discussions


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