This year, Miami-Dade Homeless Awareness Day was marked by a “living timeline” of lives changed over the two-and-a-half decades of the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust’s history.

Miami-Dade Homeless Awareness Day, a 24-hour window of programs and events created to raise awareness of and inform the community about homelessness in impactful ways, was celebrated throughout the county on Nov. 7. Coinciding with the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust’s 25th anniversary, the day marked thousands of men, women and children served; thought-to-be impossible goals met; and communities made more sustainable.

“Twenty-five years ago there were so many people sleeping on the streets that we could have completely filled the Watsco Center at University of Miami and had more people standing outside,” said Homeless Trust Chair Ronald L. Book. “When you look out over this county and its evolution into a world-class community, that transformation has coincided with a dramatic reduction in homelessness under the leadership of the Trust, together with a committed and coordinated network of homeless housing and service providers.”

Twenty-five formerly homeless men and women presented short spoken vignettes of their “before and after” lives at a special event, with each person representing a year in the life of the Trust. There was a “thank you” tour with formerly homeless members of the community to area restaurants. Restaurants collect a 1% food and beverage tax that provides the bulk of funding for the Homeless Trust.

On Nov. 6, community stakeholders, restaurant owners and formerly homeless people met up Miami Arts Charter School in Wynwood as part of the 25th year anniversary celebrations.

The formerly homeless included a young former vet and mother; a man who was on the streets for 10 years but who is now seven years clean and four classes away from a degree in social work (while working two jobs in the drug dependency field), and who was awarded the President of the United States Service Award for volunteering in the Human Health Field; a man who is now a licensed contractor and a supervisor with Urban League, and he also runs ¾ houses; and a woman who now works at Lotus House.

“There’s more work to done,” said Book, “but we’re proud of the impact our work has brought to this great community.”

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