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Community Development Related Projects Bay County Homeless Community Deliberation Series

Community Development


Over the past three to four years, the homeless population in Panama City, while not growing, has become more visible. Some walk the streets of downtown day and night while others move around high traffic areas in the rest of Bay County. Business owners are complaining that the homeless presence is hurting their business. Meanwhile citizens claim the homeless are stealing from their mailboxes and vandalizing their property.


Carpe Diem Community Solutions has spear headed an effort to bring citizens county-wide together to talk about the homeless concerns in the area. Carpe Diem Community Solutions President, Lynn Cherry, developed a series community-based meetings approach to begin to identify and solve the homeless issues. The series was coined the Bay County Homeless Community Deliberation Series.


The series began in July 2010 and ended in January 2011. The City of Panama City, Gulf Coast Community College, Former Speaker of the House Allan Bense, BP, Panama City Community Redevelopment Agency Downtown North District and the Downtown Improvement Board have partnered together to sponsor the Homeless Community Deliberation Series. Carpe Diem Community Solutions serves as the project developer and facilitator. Two of the series keystone events are issue framing and a day long Homeless Summit. Here is an overview of the entire series:


Bay County Homeless Community Deliberation Series Overview




Issue Framing


The issue framing consisted of three meetings of 25 people from government, social service agencies, downtown business owners and residents and faith-based groups. There were also homeless men and women and one high school student. The framing work resulted in the development of three approaches to solving the homeless concerns in Bay County, FL. The three approaches are as follows:


• I Am My Brother’s Helper - Citizens need to do more to help and encourage the homeless to move toward a normal life.

• I Am From the Government and I’m Here to Help - Government agencies can best accomplish the goal of eliminating homeless.

• It’s Time to Accept Responsibility – When the homeless understand they are responsible for their predicament and for their future they can better move to self-sufficiency.


Homeless Summit


Click icon below to view the Connecting the Pieces: Homelessness in Bay County Issue Brief Written and produced by Carpe Diem Community Solutions.




The day long Summit featured a community forum based on the July issue framing sessions as well as establishment of strategies to tackle the homeless problem in our community. The idea behind the Summit was to develop strategies that could be used to work on concerns expressed during the Summit. Click icons below to view Homeless Summit newspaper articles.




The summit produced seven strategies that will be explored during the next five months: employment, resource coordination, housing, vagrancy, facilities, transportation, and rehabilitation/re-entry from incarceration.


The October follow-up meeting furthered the strategy work. Some of the highlights were:


• Work with law enforcement to clearly define vagrancy and the codes enforcing it.

• Obtain government help to more quickly provide identification cards and social security information to homeless trying to enter the workforce.

• Search for an area outside of the downtown corridor that can house a “campus” type facility that will be a one-stop support and service center for the homeless.

• Seek grant funds that will provide job related transportation.

• Expand the role of housing leads to include all agencies in the county that provide low income housing.


View Homeless Summit Photos.




Deliberation of homeless related issues continues in Bay County. Click icons below to read articles.




Carpe Diem

Community Solutions, Inc.


2709 Rutgers Drive

Panama City, FL 32405

Office (850) 215-4651

Fax (850) 215-4652



"A group of people truly committed to a common vision is an awesome force."        ~ Margaret Mead



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