Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mission House Seeks Backing for Shelter; Facility Aimed at Beaches Homeless

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Mission House Seeks Backing for Shelter; Facility Aimed at Beaches Homeless

Article excerpt

Byline: Caren Burmeister, Shorelines staff writer

Buying a house to use as a place for Beaches homeless people to get off the street and into productive lifestyles will take several months, the director of a daytime care center said this week.

Board members of Mission House, a Jacksonville Beach agency that provides meals, showers and other daytime services for homeless people, met Monday to discuss buying a house in Jacksonville near the Beaches, said Executive Director Jan Flager. But they need time to resolve legal and confidentiality issues, he said.

Jacksonville Beach doesn't have a homeless shelter; the closest one is in downtown Jacksonville.

Elected officials have charged that some homeless people infringe on the safety and quality of life of people who live and work in downtown Jacksonville Beach, and that they have caused one of the city's most pressing problems.

The city adopted an anti-camping ordinance in 1999 that prohibits sleeping outdoors, living in a parked vehicle, camping or storing personal belongings in parks, streets, sidewalks, parking lots or bus benches at night. Dozens of residents broke into applause when the City Council unanimously approved the law.

Mission House's housing program, Fresh Beginnings, will run its first temporary home for single homeless women since those clients have the fewest social services available, Flager said. As the program matures, coordinators want to purchase or lease additional homes for single homeless men, he said.

Fresh Beginnings would provide a home for up to 18 months, or until the person finds other housing. Participants will be screened before being moved into the house. No one with conditions such as untreated schizophrenia or addictions could move into the house, Flager said. The program will provide mental health services for clients with disorders or who are "marginal in their basic life skills."

Of the roughly 200 homeless people at the Beaches, at least 60 percent are mentally ill or struggle with addictions, Flager said. …

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