JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The blueprints are out, the location revealed. Jacksonville will soon be getting a daytime resource center for the homeless downtown.
"The City Rescue Mission will host a one-year pilot project for the day center,” said Mayor Alvin Brown at a news conference on Thursday.
But while the announcement was received with City Hall cheers, many questions remain. Are we just moving the city's homeless problem from one part of town to another? And how much will it ultimately cost you, the taxpayer, to run?
"The donations are coming from the private sector at very nominal cost to the city,” Brown said.
The mayor’s office is estimating it will cost $70,000 to modify the current rescue mission on State Street for the new center. But, Brown says that’ll be covered by private donations.
One city staff member will be assigned as a liaison to the center.
"Self-sufficiency is the key; this is not a hand-out but a hand-up,” said Brown.
Those close to the issue, like Dawn Gilman, say it’s a must-do.
"It's a small, but needed piece of the puzzle that we've been missing,” said Gilman, Executive Director of the Emergency Services & Homeless Coalition of Jacksonville, Inc.
The resource center will be able to help up to 200 people during business hours, three days each week starting in January. The center will use a “clubhouse” model, wherein all patrons must obtain a membership that is earned and retained on the basis of positive, non-disruptive behavior.
Plans for the facility include Internet access, showers, washers and dryers, office space, telephones with community voice mail and job resources.
Gilman tells us it's not enough to solve the problem completely, but it's a start.
"This is only the beginning. So, we'll see what happens as we get rolling on this,” she said.
“Homelessness is a growing and complex problem,” said Sheriff John Rutherford. “This could be an answer for one segment of that population and I hope it will be successful for those people.”
Construction is set to start in December.