Peer specialists could help the homeless living in parks

Peer specialists could help the homeless living in parks
Park visitors notice the homeless living in their tents near Sixth Avenue South at John Prince Park. (Source: WPTV)

LAKE WORTH BEACH, Fla. — Park visitors notice the homeless living in their tents near Sixth Avenue South at John Prince Park.

"Helping them and getting these people back on their feet is going to solve the issue indefinitely," said a parent.

Just last month, a grandmother sent FOX pictures of what appeared to be homeless bathing at the splash park and sleeping under a playground. Now, help may be on the way.

Tuesday morning Palm Beach County Commissioners approved grant funding for peer specialists. The specialists will be in the park helping the homeless. Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Director Eric Call said it's great.

"Having someone here all of the time when they do want the help there will be somebody here to assist them. Rather than try to make a phone call and see if we can get somebody here and by the time they get here, they are no longer interested in the help."

A peer specialist is someone who has battled and overcomes the same things the homeless may be dealing with, such as mental health issues, trauma or drug abuse.

According to Call, there's a goal.

"Reduce the number of homeless people here in the park. Housing is first, we have to find places for them. And kind of return to the park back to the individuals that live in this area and visit the park."

He says a task force will meet in a week or two to talk about ways to help the homeless.

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