(1) LEGISLATIVE FINDINGS.—The Legislature hereby finds and declares that most services for the homeless have been provided by local communities through voluntary private agencies and religious organizations and that the growing numbers and increasing needs of the homeless have generally outstripped the capabilities of such local agencies to adequately respond to the problems of the homeless in Florida. The Legislature further recognizes that the level of need and types of problems associated with homelessness may vary widely from community to community, due to the diversity and geographic distribution of the homeless population and the resulting differing needs of particular communities. While the need of all homeless and displaced persons for services is recognized, it is the legislative intent that, in awarding financial assistance to local agencies under this section, preference be given to those agencies offering services targeted for the new and temporary homeless.
(2) PURPOSE.—The principal objective of this program is to provide needed assistance to local agencies to enable them to:
(a) Assist persons in their communities who have become, or are about to become, homeless.
(b) Where possible, restore the homeless living in their communities to suitable living conditions and self-sufficiency as quickly as possible.
(3) ESTABLISHMENT.—There is hereby established a grant-in-aid program to help local communities in serving the needs of the homeless through a variety of supportive services, which may include, but are not limited to:
(a) Public education and outreach programs.
(b) Information and referral services, including state and local telephone hotlines and local emergency shelter location and housing location services.
(c) Case management services.
(d) Emergency financial assistance for persons who are totally without shelter or facing loss of shelter, but who are not eligible for such assistance under s. 414.16.
(e) Emergency and temporary shelter programs.
(f) Temporary rent and income supplements.
(g) Job counseling and assistance programs, including temporary day care services, for persons seeking employment.
(h) Meals programs.
(i) Services coordination.
(4) APPLICATION PROCEDURE.—Local agencies shall submit an application for grant-in-aid funds to the district administrator for review. During the first year of implementation, district administrators shall begin to accept applications for district funds no later than October 1, 1988, and by August 1 of each year thereafter for which funding for this section is provided. District funds shall be made available to local agencies no more than 30 days after the deadline date for applications for each funding cycle.
(5) SPENDING PLANS.—The department shall develop guidelines for the development of spending plans and for the evaluation and approval by district administrators of spending plans, based upon such factors as:
(a) The demonstrated level of need for the program.
(b) The demonstrated ability of the local agency or agencies seeking assistance to deliver the services and to assure that identified needs will be met.
(c) The ability of the local agency or agencies seeking assistance to deliver a wide range of services as enumerated in subsection (3).
(d) The adequacy and reasonableness of proposed budgets and planned expenditures, and the demonstrated capacity of the local agency or agencies to administer the funds sought.
(e) A statement from the local coalition for the homeless as to the steps to be taken to assure coordination and integration of services in the district to avoid unnecessary duplication and costs.
(f) Assurances by the local coalition for the homeless that alternative funding strategies for meeting needs through the reallocation of existing resources, utilization of volunteers, and local government or private agency funding have been explored.
(g) The existence of an evaluation component designed to measure program outcomes and determine the overall effectiveness of the local programs for the homeless for which funding is sought.
(6) ALLOCATION OF GRANT FUNDS TO DISTRICTS.—State grant-in-aid funds for local initiatives for the homeless shall be allocated by the department to, and administered by, department districts. Allocations shall be based upon sufficient documentation of:
(a) The magnitude of the problem of homelessness in the district, and the demonstrated level of unmet need for services in the district for those who are homeless or are about to become homeless.
(b) A strong local commitment to seriously address the problem of homelessness as evidenced by coordinated programs involving preventive, emergency, and transitional services and by the existence of active local organizations committed to serving those who have become, or are about to become, homeless.
(c) Agreement by local government and private agencies currently serving the homeless not to reduce current expenditures for services presently provided to those who are homeless or are about to become homeless if grant assistance is provided pursuant to this section.
(d) Geographic distribution of district programs to ensure that such programs serve both rural and urban areas, as needed.
(7) DISTRIBUTION TO LOCAL AGENCIES.—District funds so allocated shall be available for distribution by the district administrator to local agencies to fund programs such as those set forth in subsection (3), based upon the recommendations of the local coalitions in accordance with spending plans developed by the coalitions and approved by the district administrator. Not more than 10 percent of the total state funds awarded under a spending plan may be used by the local coalition for staffing and administration.
(8) LOCAL MATCHING FUNDS.—Entities contracting to provide services through financial assistance obtained under this section shall provide a minimum of 25 percent of the funding necessary for the support of project operations. In-kind contributions, whether materials, commodities, transportation, office space, other types of facilities, or personal services, and contributions of money or services from homeless persons may be evaluated and counted as part or all of this required local funding, in the discretion of the district administrator.