‘I don’t want to be out here:’ New housing project addresses growing Jacksonville problem

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Homelessness continues to be a problem in Jacksonville. In fact, according to recent survey results from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office’s Public Opinion Survey, homelessness was the second most important issue to Jacksonville residents, behind only gun violence.

Charles Thomas is just one of the many struggling with that issue in Jacksonville, spending each night worrying about whether he’ll have a roof over his head.

“I mean, I’m sitting by a shelter right now that when I first came here, they were letting 50, 60 people in. And now they’re down to 30 people,” Thomas told Action News Jax. “I don’t want to be out here.”

Thomas also says it’s especially disheartening the number of veterans out on the streets without a place to call home.

“I don’t like to see anybody out here, it breaks my heart,” Thomas said emotionally. “But when it comes to veterans, they should not be out here period.”

Now, the non-profit known as Community Solutions is aiming to address exactly that issue, with plans to buy the Villager apartments in Arlington. The plans are to provide 20 units as housing for homeless veterans and lower the prices of the other 20 units as affordable housing.

Action News Jax had the chance to speak with Dawn Gilman on Wednesday, the CEO of Changing Homelessness, another organization involved with this project, who says this will provide a place to go for those in need.

“The very most basic needs of any human being is food, clothing, and shelter. And if you don’t have that shelter, it is very difficult for you to move forward … to do anything else,” said Gilman.

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