Leaders to address homeless issues
New initiative calls for permanent housing for those in need
Concerns about the homeless and their potential impact on economic development have led the Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance to partner with the United Way of Broward County on a new initiative: United We End Homelessness.
During its mid-year meeting on Thursday, the Alliance announced formation of the group and its leaders: AutoNation Chairman and CEO Mike Jackson and Castle Group CEO James Donnelly.
Although jobs are being created at a rapid pace in Broward County, unemployment and homelessness remain troubling issues, according to the Alliance. “I look out my window, and the economy is booming. I count 15 cranes. As I walk around Fort Lauderdale and drive around Broward, my heart aches when I see the homeless situation,” Jackson said. “I know a lot is being done, but my sense is it’s just not enough.”
Bob Swindell, president and CEO of the Alliance, said AutoNation considered leaving downtown Fort Lauderdale before recently recommitting to lease its building at 200 SW First Ave. AutoNation is the nation’s largest auto retailer with 750 at its headquarters and more than 3,500 employees in South Florida.
Swindell said Jackson told him he was concerned about the homeless situation. “Mike said, ‘My employees’ quality of life during the day has really plummeted. This is an economic development issue. You’re going to lose businesses in downtown Fort Lauderdale,’ ” Swindell recalled Jackson telling him during a meeting in November 2016.
Jackson said considering other sites was just part of the decision process on whether to renew its lease with Stiles Corp., which it