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Innovations for helping the homeless

January 22, 1999

Some cities are making it easier for the homeless to find and use social services. In April, Washington will open a resource center with everything from job and housing services to a place for the homeless to store their belongings. Seattle also plans to open a similar facility later this year - complete with showers and washing machines.

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Baltimore hosted its Opportunity Fair last week. The event brings together 90-plus service providers to help more than 3,000 homeless and low-income people, dispensing everything from free haircuts and dental work to clothing, legal advice, and sometimes a job. The day ends with a turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

Miami's food and beverage tax produces a dedicated funding stream for homeless programs. The tax, levied on restaurants that make more than $400,000 a year, brings in about $6 million annually. Fort Lauderdale, Fla., recently established a similar real-estate tax.