Salvation Army to receive $323,208 from Sarasota County in 2025 fiscal year for shelter beds for homeless individuals

Contract’s ‘Scope of Work’ says at least 150 ‘unduplicated clients’ to be served

This aerial map shows the Salvation Army facility standing at 1400 10th St. in Sarasota. Image from Google Maps

In unanimously approving their July 9 Consent Agenda of routine business matters, the Sarasota County Commission agreed to pay the Salvation Army $323,208 for beds for homeless individuals in the 2025 fiscal year, which will begin on Oct. 1.

The 2024 fiscal year contract called for the county to pay the Salvation Army a slightly higher amount — $324,093 — for 23 beds to be used by the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office Homeless Outreach Team (HOT), a county staff memo said. The number of beds cited in the new agreement remains the same.

As the staff memo explained, in 2017, the commissioners adopted a Quality-of-Life ordinance, which forbids camping and storage of personal property on public property. “The HOT beds provide emergency shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness and who have either, 1) violated the Quality-of-Life Ordinance and indicate a desire to enter the emergency shelter in lieu of jail, or 2) are those that, through outreach activities and with the authorization of a law enforcement officer, request to enter the emergency shelter,” the memo pointed out.

The clients who use the HOT beds receive meals, access to showers, “and other necessities,” as well, the agreement says. Each shelter bed must have “padding of at least three (3) inches in depth,” it points out.

The agreement also calls for at least 150 “unduplicated clients” to be served, with 90% indicating “that they are satisfied or very satisfied with the services provided by the program.”

Moreover, it says, “Any performance less than the goal may require an analysis of the efficiency of the program. Funding for this contract is not based upon the achievement of these community success factors; however, future funding considerations may be impacted.”

In September 2023, the commissioners voted to remove the provision of the HOT beds from the county’s Human Services grant application process for each fiscal year, the county staff memo explains. The funding became “a regular operating expense” as of Oct. 1, 2023, which was the first day of the current fiscal year, the memo adds.

In a scene from an October 2018 Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office video about the work of its HOT program, a deputy and case manager Nancy Williams talk with a homeless person about assistance they can provide. Image courtesy Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office

The funding for the beds comes out of property tax revenue, the memo continues. The commission has a policy whereby 0.0661 mills of the property tax revenue, allocated from the county’s General Operating Millage, is to be used “to support non-behavioral health programs and services,” the memo notes.

The 2025 fiscal year Scope of Services for the funding award emphasizes that the beds “are not intended for individuals with severe medical issues, as the Salvation Army does not employ skilled nursing professionals.

Further, the Scope of Services explains that the intention for the HOT beds is that they will have “low barriers to entry and low demands for stay” and that they will be “accessible to people who need shelter the most …”

Additionally, the focus with the use of the beds “is moving people out of shelter and into housing as quickly as possible,” with “robust assessment and diversion processes [in place]” to ensure the most effective use of “scarce shelter resources.”

The Scope of Services defines “Low Barrier Shelter” as follows:

  • “Serves people who do not have identification. (For purposes of residency, it is assumed that the person is a Sarasota County resident due to location of contract and origination of transport).
  • “Serves people without regard to citizenship status.
  • “Serves people who actively use alcohol.
  • “Serves people who use legal and/or illegal drugs (other than alcohol) without a prescription.
  • “Serves people with criminal records, not to include sex offenders if children are on the same campus; does not check for outstanding warrants.
  • “Serves people with zero income.
  • “Does not charge a fee or shelter fee equivalent for the services specified under this contract.
  • “Welcomes transgender individuals and shelters them according to their gender identification and choice.
  • “Does not do drug testing or alcohol testing of any shelter guests under any circumstances for the services specified under this contract.”