Photography

Richard Joseph Courtney

March 27, 1938 ~ August 24, 2020 (age 82)

Obituary

Richard J. “Courtney”, 82, of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, passed away peacefully at home on Monday, August 24, 2020 with his “best friend” Lorraine and his cat, Kittie nearby.  Born in Dearborn Michigan, he was the son of the late John and Marie (McErlaine) Courtney.

He is survived by his partner Lorraine Wilby, his sister MaryAnn Gasser, his brother-in-law Bud Gasser, his daughter Kelley Courtney, his son Timothy Courtney, and his grandchildren. He was the brother of the late Nancy Leitten, John Courtney and James Courtney.

Courtney was the President of the TaskForce Fore Ending Homelessness, Inc., as well as the founder of the TaskForce and the Outreach Team program.

Courtney graduated from Wayne State University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering. He worked at General Motors, Franklin-Eldridge, and Captained container ships throughout the Caribbean. He was a Veteran and served honorably as an Officer in the United States Navy in Vietnam and Germany.

His funeral is private.  Donations in Courtney’s memory may be made to: TaskForce Fore Ending Homelessness, 915 NE 3rd Ave. #3, Ft Lauderdale, FL  33304

A Memorial for Courtney will be held post-COVID in the Spring of 2021. People wishing to attend the Memorial should send an email to Lorraine at ldwilby@bellsouth.net.

DO NOT SEND FLOWERS TO THE FUNERAL HOME AS OUR FACILITY IS  ON LOCK-DOWN
SEND THEM TO THE FAMILY.

 

COURTNEY AND THE TASKFORCE

In 1999, Courtney developed, in partnership with the Fort Lauderdale Police, the nationally recognized homeless street outreach program (Department of Housing & Urban Development and National Coalition to End Homelessness Best Practice, 2002). Originally funded by a local non-profit, the program spun-off in 2003 and Courtney started a non-profit, the TaskForce Fore Ending Homelessness, Inc. He started the agency with his own money and his personal van. He joked that he started the company on a federal grant, his Social Security Retirement. His schedule for the first six years of operation was seven days per week, 10 hours per day. He secured a grant from DCF, putting the grant money into the agency for field computers and vans. Courtney acquired a 501c3 status, developed a committed board and core of volunteers. Courtney started the agency as the CEO and the President of the Board of Directors.

Courtney served on many boards throughout the State of Florida and locally in Broward County; he was the first Co-Chair of the Homeless Providers & Stakeholders Council with his friend Steve, member of the Board of Directors of the Florida Coalition for the Homeless, and for many years a member of the Healthcare for the Homeless Consumer Advisory Board at Broward Health.

As an advocate, Courtney received many awards locally, state-wide, and nationally. He received the Local Hero Award from Bank of America, the Points of Light Award from the Points of Light Institute, the EPIC Award (Exceptional People Impacting the Community) from the Mental Health Association of Southeastern Florida, the Building Bridges Award from the Broward Coalition for the Homeless; the Outstanding Contributions Award and the Advocate of the Year Award from the Florida Coalition for the Homeless.

In his role as an advocate for the homeless, a few of his major accomplishments are as follows:

  • He initiated a lawsuit against the City of Fort Lauderdale regarding the closing of Tent City, protecting the rights of the remaining homeless people in Tent city. After a lengthy trial, Fort Lauderdale settled and met Courtney’s demands.

  • He initiated a law suit against the City of Fort Lauderdale banning them from arresting Arnold Abbott, Love Thy Neighbor from feeding homeless on the beach. He won the case in appellate court.

  • He initiated a lawsuit against Storage USA, protecting the rights of homeless people and their belongings. Storage USA settled outside of court.

  • He advocated tirelessly with Broward County Emergency Management to lift bus fees during hurricane warnings so homeless and low-income citizens could travel to hurricane shelters by bus for free. BCEM conceded and removed the fees for bus travel during hurricane warnings.

  • He advocated and lobbied against the Broward County HIP Administration being both a funder and a direct service provider, when community funds were sole sourced to a HIP direct service program versus being advertised in an RFP. The Broward County Human Services Director re-assigned those direct service programs to another county Division to eliminate the conflict of interest.

  • He filed a grievance and request for audit with the Department of Children & Families, State of Florida Inspector General regarding the local Coalition charging homeless providers for bus passes that the Coalition was receiving free on behalf of providers. The Inspector General cited the Coalition and required them to distribute the bus passes for free to the providers.

  • Filed a lawsuit against the Department of Children & Families, State of Florida for continuing to sole source a transportation grant to the local Coalition, disregarding years of corrective actions and dishonest practices. The case was settled and the grant monies were no longer sole sourced.

  • He advocated and lobbied the Department of Children & Families, State of Florida for a Marchman Act facility with designated beds for indigent homeless. After years of advocating and numerous homeless deaths, DCF conceded and provided Marchman Act beds for Chronic homeless in Broward County.

 

Courtney assisted many police jurisdictions implement the Outreach Team program. Some of these jurisdictions include Los Angeles County; Clearwater, FL; Honolulu; Colorado Springs, CO; Boston; St. Petersburg, FL; Newark, NJ; Dallas, TX; San Diego; and Montreal, Canada. He was integral in the establishment of the Law Enforcement Crisis Intervention Team model and the Homeless Outreach model for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department.

Courtney was published (May 2004) in Preventing Suicide: The National Journal, Unnoticed Statistics: Homeless Suicides and presented this paper at the 37th Annual Conference of the American Association of Suicidology.  Since 1999 a multitude of newspaper articles have been written regarding Courtney and his work with the homeless.  They can be found in the archives of the Miami Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Los Angeles Times, Palm Beach Post and the Tampa Tribune.  

Brad Meltzer, best-selling author, rode outreach with Courtney in 2007.  He spent time working with homeless and visiting shelters with Courtney to get background information on homelessness for his book - The Book of Lies, 2008.  Brad was asked at a book signing why homelessness as the backdrop - he said he was looking for a hero.  He said throughout times of fear and crisis, heroes emerge.  He felt homelessness was a crisis in this country and in his research of the book he went looking for a hero.  Brad talked about contacting shelters, government, provider agencies and how he kept being told Courtney was the person to contact.  He talked about the advocacy work Courtney does, about the caring, the compassion that he has for the homeless.  Brad said Courtney is a real modern-day hero and he was the model for his main character in the book – Courtney was his hero.   

Courtney was the President of the TaskForce Fore Ending Homelessness for seventeen years and an ardent advocate for the homeless. 

DO NOT SEND FLOWERS TO THE FUNERAL HOME AS OUR FACILITY IS  ON LOCK-DOWN
SEND THEM TO THE FAMILY.

 

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