June 30, 2013. Jacksonville.com
Despite running about a half-year behind schedule, a new homeless day resource center is due to open Monday.
The project is a fulfillment of a commitment Mayor Alvin Brown made to homeless service providers and the 39-church Interchurch Coalition for Action, Reconciliation and Empowerment group, known as ICARE.
Brown said Friday he was happy to see the project completed.
“I’m very humbled and honored that we were able to get this done,” he said.
Brown will be joined by representatives from Wells Fargo, which donated money to the effort, and leaders of nonprofit organizations for a ribbon cutting and barbecue to open the center Monday.
The building is a 3,000-square-foot facility just west of the Rosa Parks Bus Terminal on Union Street. The structure is being leased from the City Rescue Mission for free.
The center, which is a year-long pilot program, will initially serve as a cooling location and have a staffer to help connect clients to services.
Dawn Gilman, chairwoman of the Jacksonville Day Resource Center, the body set up to run the center, said she expects the center to be fully operational by Aug. 1. She said the center will be “an important piece of the puzzle in reducing homelessness in downtown Jacksonville.”
The center will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. And when fully operational, the center will give users access to showers, computers, phones, agencies, veterans groups, a case manager and food stamps.
The program will track the number of misdemeanor arrests of the homeless to see if there is a decrease, as well as measure at what level the services are being used.
“It’s going to be a big barbecue,” said Cindy Funkhouser, president and CEO of the Sulzbacher Center, of the Monday event. “So all the people on the street are going to come, they are going to know where this is, they’re going to be able to see and in a couple of weeks they’re going to be able to start utilizing it.”
The Sulzbacher Center is handing over its lunch service to the homeless community to the new center on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. That is expected to start sometime in July.