RIVIERA BEACH, Fla. – Opportunities to address the housing crisis in Palm Beach County, the purpose of the organization and an upcoming scholarship breakfast were the major topics of discussion at the first in-person meeting of the Palm Beach County Black Elected (PBCBEO) officials since the group was restructured in January.

The meeting was held Saturday, Oct. 28 at the Port of Palm Beach.

“There are more than 40 black elected or appointed officials here in Palm Beach County and it is important for us to know each other and get connected in order to better serve our communities,” said state Sen, Bobby Powell Jr., the group’s president, as he called the meeting to order.

“It is also important that we see the value in this organization.”

With homelessness and homeownership a major issue for the county, the rest of South Florida as well as the state, especially for African Americans, Jonathan Brown, director of Housing and Economic Development for Palm Beach County, was the guest speaker.

Brown discussed implementation of the Housing Bond for Palm Beach County that voters recently approved, and the new Live Local Act that was created by the Florida Legislature.

Former Palm Beach County Commissioner Addie Greene, who created the elected officials caucus, gave a brief history of the organization and discussed both her excitement and disappointment due to its inactivity for the past several years.

“You all have a responsibility to work together and bring information back to your communities, and you haven’t done that,” said Greene, who also served as a state representative as well as mayor and a councilmember for the town of Mangonia Park. She now is retired from politics.

Some of the county’s more than 40 Black elected or appointed officials were unable to attend due to scheduling conflicts.

There was representation, however, from South Bay, Belle Glade, West Lake, Riviera Beach, the Port of Palm Beach, the county and state.

City of South Bay Commissioner Albert Polk IV said he believes the Black elected officials are striving for a more inclusive society, and that unifying will increase their impact throughout municipalities.

“I firmly believe that the Black elected officials caucus is binding to cultivating solidarity, amplifying our voices, and striving towards a more equitable and inclusive society for everyone,” Polk said.

“I’m excited to see us work together to transform our collective vision of justice and advancement into tangible outcomes that benefit all individuals.”

The next major event being planned by the group as discussed will be the return of the organization’s annual Scholarship Breakfast on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024 at the West Palm Beach Marriott, 1001 Okeechobee Blvd.

“We have a charge as Black elected officials,” said Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard, a former PBCBEO president, “to serve our communities by working in a concentrated effort to bring awareness and money to those areas, and our Scholarship Luncheon will allow us to do that while sowing into the next generation.”

“I believe that we are moving in the right direction.”