Investigates: Downtown Jacksonville ‘tent city’ grows after city moves some to hotels

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — The homeless camp in downtown Jacksonville on Jefferson has grown two weeks since the city moved 48 people into hotels for thirty days.

Dawn Gilman, the CEO of Changing Homelessness, said word spread about the program to move individuals into hotels for thirty days to help them on their feet and into permanent housing.

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Action News Jax’s Robert Grant spoke with several individuals who specifically came to the camp to get help in a hotel.

Many said they’ve been waiting a couple of weeks.

Gilman said the influx of people on Jefferson are not new to the area, but rather individuals who were in other spots across Duval.

The ongoing project is funded through CARES Act funding and started in April 2020.

Gilman said they’ve helped 248 people with hotel stays since then and there’s currently 121 in hotels right now, including the 48 people moved from Jefferson Street on Monday, February 8.

They are currently at capacity and waiting on more funding.

Mayor Lenny Curry said that city council is working on legislation to approve more funding for the program, but it could take a couple more weeks before another round of individuals move.

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“There’s capacity right now in our shelters. So I would encourage people, if you’re down there – tell them there’s room right now, there’s capacity.”

Action News Jax found out that Trinity Rescue Mission’s shelter for men across the street from the homeless camp is full.

The women and children’s shelter has space.

The Sulzbacher Center is currently operating at 70% capacity because of COVID-19 restrictions and told Action News Jax it is also full.

City Rescue Mission is at 75% capacity because of COVID-19 and currently has six beds for men and seven beds for women available.

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They will be moving to 100% capacity in phase two on March 1.

“We stand ready to serve and help people through our Emergency Shelter Services,” Executive Director Paul Stasi said.

Clara White operates a shelter for veterans only and has 12 beds available.