Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Services to Help Poor to Be Improved; Several Programs Are in the Works to Provide Services to People and Families in Need

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Services to Help Poor to Be Improved; Several Programs Are in the Works to Provide Services to People and Families in Need

Article excerpt

Byline: CAREN BURMEISTER

New services are coming to the Beaches that will offer housing for homeless families with children and medical care for people with no insurance.

In April, a task force of Beaches-area social service agencies announced it wanted to improve medical care for the uninsured and services for the homeless, particularly homeless families with children.

Now, several programs are taking shape through new community initiatives or coordination between Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry and Jacksonville nonprofit agencies that want to extend homeless services to the Beaches.

Six new programs, some of which are still in development, are:

- BEAM has money designated for hotel rooms that will get homeless families with children off the street until they can find permanent or transitional housing.

- A Clara White Mission counselor is coming to BEAM every Monday to provide housing and employment assistance for Beaches homeless women with children.

- Starting next week, a mental health counselor from Baptist Health will work from an office at BEAM once or twice a week.

- A grant is pending for a Homeless Outreach Project Expansion van for the Beaches.

If approved, a team will go into the field to offer medical and mental health care, housing and other services to homeless people. Final word on the grant, sought by the I.M. Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless, will come in the fall.

- In June, Community Connections in Jacksonville began placing Beaches homeless families in transitional housing units throughout Jacksonville.

- Community leaders are working on a full-time medical clinic for the uninsured that would serve the working poor and the homeless.

The Beaches area doesn't have a homeless shelter, but it does have Mission House, a daytime facility in Jacksonville Beach that provides meals, showers, clothing and medical clinics for homeless people. However, Mission House doesn't focus on homeless families with children.

Those numbers are growing, nationwide and at the Beaches. In the last three months, BEAM has placed 30 homeless families in a hotel or connected them with a social services agencies that can find transitional housing, said BEAM Executive Director Cindy Funkhouser.

"That's our promise, that they will be off the street that day," Funkhouser said.

Homeless families with children are particularly vulnerable. Their children could be taken away because living on the streets is sometimes considered a form of child neglect or abuse. …

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