'We don't have anywhere else to go': Local women veterans center in danger of closing

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A local nonprofit providing resources to women veterans may have to close its doors.

Action New Jax investigator Courtney Cole learned the city of Jacksonville owns the building but says it is not responsible for repairing the roof.

Deloris “Dee” Quaranta, the founder, president and CEO of Northeast Florida Women Veterans, told Cole there have been problems with the leaky roof since the nonprofit moved in to the building two years ago and that it’s only getting worse.

If you walk into Quaranta's office, you can see a gaping hole and the trash can she now has to use to collect the water.


“We call it the safe haven, because women veterans come in here and they know it's a safe space,” said Quaranta.

Or, at least, it was.

The leaky roof presents a problem that has the potential to grow, Quaranta said.

Sky Action News Jax flew over the flat roof, and when you watch the video, the vantage point from our chopper allows us to show you the water pockets on the roof.

Quaranta also showed me how the leak is traveling across the ceiling inside the building.

“And we don't want to have to close down. Every day, there is someone walking through those doors with a crisis,” Quaranta told Cole.

The Air Force veteran said she can’t help but anticipate something bad happening, if the center doesn't get help soon.

“And my fear is that a ceiling will cave in on someone in the building,” said Quaranta.

She told me the center has dealt with the problem for most of the two years it has been at the building on Broadway Avenue in Paxon.

“We noticed brown spots in the drywall, in the ceiling, here by the door. This week, of course, I came in and there's water in the light fixture,” Quaranta said.

Cole found out the city owns the building, but Quaranta said her there’s a part in the center's lease that says the nonprofit is responsible for the maintenance.

“Unfortunately, I didn't really think that the roof, being a part of the solid structure, was included in that, and that's my ignorance,” said Quaranta.

Now, the center is trying to come up with somewhere between $12,000 and $17,000 to fix the roof.

“We don't have anywhere else to go, so we've got to get the roof repaired,” Quaranta told Cole.

After Cole contacted the city today, Nikki Kimbleton, the director of public affairs, told Cole the city is working with the Public Works Department on this issue and will continue to give me updates on their progress.

And, in the meantime, Kimbleton said she would be happy to meet with Northeast Florida Women Veterans to “discuss developing strategic partnerships with like organizations that might have additional space available for improved collaboration.”

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