Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Churches Called on to Help Homeless; A Beaches Task Force Has Set out Goals and Ideas for Faith-Based Institutions to Follow

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Churches Called on to Help Homeless; A Beaches Task Force Has Set out Goals and Ideas for Faith-Based Institutions to Follow

Article excerpt

Byline: CAREN BURMEISTER

Churches, not government, have the power and resources to help Beaches homeless people become self-sufficient, especially families with children, a charity leader said.

While churches have already helped, a task force of Beaches-area faith-based social service agencies is asking them to do more.

"People need to step up and businesses need to step up," said Cindy Funkhouser, executive director of Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry, or BEAM. "They need to be a part of this solution. It's really going to take the whole community."

The Beaches Ministerial Association task force on homelessness recently released a report on goals to improve services to the Beaches' growing homeless population.

Those goals include providing temporary church shelters for homeless families with children, increasing low-income and transitional housing and improving medical services to the uninsured.

The task force comprises four faith-based agencies: BEAM provides food, clothing and assistance with rent, utilities and prescriptions to help prevent homelessness. Mission House offers meals, showers, job and medical assistance at its daytime facility for homeless people. Beaches Habitat for Humanity builds permanent homes for low-income people and Helping Hands Ministry provides transitional housing for homeless people.

In October, the task force formed to examine the services available for the homeless and the gaps that stand in the way of helping them become self-sufficient.

Because homeless families with children are one of the fastest-growing segments of the homeless population, the task force has identified as the best first step the construction of Helping Hands Village, a transitional housing complex that could help families become stable and move on to economic independence. …

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