Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Homeless Shelter Violates New City Code; Little House Ministries Is Seeking a Waiver from the Rule

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Homeless Shelter Violates New City Code; Little House Ministries Is Seeking a Waiver from the Rule

Article excerpt

Byline: MARY HURST

FERNANDINA BEACH - First Assembly of God Pastor Edwin Shick told city commissioners Tuesday that when he gave his life up to Christ, he also gave up bucking authority.

"I will comply and I'll do what I'm told," he said.

What he'd been doing quietly and with the blessing of city authorities, law enforcement and social service agencies who have referred homeless people to his ministry for 17 years suddenly had become a problem when the city's code changed recently. It was one line in a 200-page document that threw a monkey wrench in the works.

Someone filed a complaint in early January with the city because the ministry temporarily sheltered men in its church hall on 14th Street, which is not allowed under the new city code. There was also an electrical code violation listed.

The city cited Shick for the code violations. In response, Shick moved women and children staying at Little House Ministries into homes volunteered by members of his congregation. Little House, the former parsonage next door to his church, is permitted to house homeless people. The homeless men who had been sleeping on cots in the church hall were moved into the Little House.

Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday to waive a $650 fee on Shick's application for a waiver to continue to house homeless men in the church hall.

Shick said Wednesday city officials have given the OK for the homeless men to return to the church hall and the women and children to the Little House until the city Code Enforcement Board meets March 14 to consider the waiver. But Shick doesn't know if he'll do so.

"I don't want to uproot the children again until I know the waiver is granted," he said.

City Manager Michael Czymbor said code enforcement was applying the city code uniformly, adding that what Shick has been doing was an invaluable service to the community at no cost to taxpayers. …

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