City Rescue Mission to host pilot project
City Rescue Mission is partnering with the City of Jacksonville to administer a one-year pilot project that will host a daytime resource center intended to transform the lives of Jacksonville’s homeless.
Watch video from the announcement
Mayor Alvin Brown applauded the City Rescue Mission and its CEO, David Bugher, during Thursday’s announcement, saying it marked a significant step toward developing solutions for those who are trying to rebuild themselves amid personal and economic challenges.
Improvements at the City Rescue Mission’s Downtown campus for the pilot project will begin in December with plans to create capacity for up to 200 people during business hours, three days each week starting in January. One city staff member will be assigned as a liaison to the center, but operational costs and duties throughout the pilot will be handled through private donations and the efforts – both paid and volunteer – of homeless people benefiting from the facility.
“We are seeing partnership-driven innovation at work in a way that will benefit everyone in our city,” said Mayor Brown. “This is more than a shelter. It’s a voice for the voiceless and it’s a tool to help people help themselves, to recapture self-sufficiency and to rebuild self-esteem. One life at a time, we can and we will build a stronger community.”
City Rescue Mission’s Downtown campus is located on State Street. The facility already offers emergency shelter and serves hundreds of people daily through a variety of programs. Bugher said expanding services to include the daytime resource center fits well into the center’s charitable vision.
“City Rescue Mission is eager to be part of this project and hopes final negotiations make that possible,” said Bugher.
The purpose of the daytime resource center is to provide a safe area for the homeless with centralized access to workforce skills training and transitional housing services. 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 mailbox access.
“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.”
Along with crucial programs and services, the daytime resource center also would provide temporary respite from inclement weather.
"Opening a drop-in center has been a goal of the Coalition and our member agencies since 2004," said Dawn Gilman, Executive Director of the Emergency Services & Homeless Coalition of Jacksonville Inc. "With Mayor Brown's commitment we will have the opportunity to demonstrate the benefit of the program to the community. This will be a true public-private partnership with the City of Jacksonville, the faith community, nonprofits and the business community."
Reversing the cycle of homelessness continues to be a priority for the Brown Administration. In December 2011, the mayor hosted a symposium on the issue with members of the city’s nonprofit, business and law enforcement communities. Earlier this year, the mayor welcomed U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan to Jacksonville to discuss affordable housing solutions. During the Mayor Alvin Brown Interfaith Celebration, the mayor issued a call to action for faith-based leaders to combine resources to help the homeless. In April, the mayor announced his vision for the daytime center and participated in a community roundtable with the nonprofit, nonpartisan, faith-based organization ICARE to discuss potential solutions to homelessness in Jacksonville.
"ICARE is very pleased with the announcement of a site for the Downtown resource center for the homeless,” said Hugh Chapman, ICARE Homeless Committee Co-Chair. “This shows great progress in Mayor Brown fulfilling his commitment to open this day center by the end of the year."