Homeless day center opens after delays
On a hot, muggy July afternoon, Mayor Alvin Brown and homeless prevention advocates talked of the importance of services that a Jacksonville Day Resource Center would provide.
More than three months later, those in need finally were able to receive a full range of services intended to help them back on their feet.
Since the July event, the center has largely offered minimal services, such as access to a "cooling room" to beat the heat. The facility began offering its full complement of services Monday.
Now, showers are up. Case managers are on hand. Two washer-and-dryer sets should be delivered by the end of the week. And, next week a large canopy will be set up in the lot of the 234 W. State St. site that will allow patrons to socialize in a shaded setting.
"When they come in the door, they're not a number. They're an individual," said Tillis DeVaughn, center program manager with the city's neighborhoods department. He's the only city employee working at the facility.
DeVaughn said the delays since that July ceremony were beyond his control and came in the form of air conditioning units being replaced and the city working out issues about liability insurance. He said he wasn't disappointed in having a later start when compared to waiting the 15 or so years the idea has been in the pipeline.
Dawn Gilman, Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition of Jacksonville executive director, said with the obstacles preventing full service until now, a slower roll-out was planned to "make sure we have everything set."
She said partners such as Clara White Mission, the Sulzbacher Center, Salvation Army, City Rescue Mission and more are now in place to help.
The center is open Monday, Wednesday and Fridays.
Clients who enter the center will first meet with staff to determine whether casework is needed. Casework can be broken into veterans, people with mental health problems or those who have physical health issues.
Each has a different course of action.
Those who don't need casework can use other day center resources, such as showers, laundry, a TV and recreation area, computers, telephones.
Lunch services are not yet available, but will be in the near future, Gilman said.
Families and women with children are redirected to partner agencies.
The one-year pilot program coincides with the city fiscal year and was funded by a $120,000 city Community Development Block Grant and a $70,000 contribution from Wells Fargo. Gilman said the grant couldn't purchase some of the needed items, so Wells Fargo gave an extra $10,000.
In addition, $130,000 was provided in-kind by ACON Construction as was design work by VRL Architects.
Gilman said there will be tracking reports for both the city and Wells Fargo to determine how many individuals are served, if arrests for homeless clients diminishes and other aspects.