Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Need for Assistance Already on Rise in '09; the Year Is off to a Busy Start for Those Who Provide Shelter, Other Services for Homeless

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Need for Assistance Already on Rise in '09; the Year Is off to a Busy Start for Those Who Provide Shelter, Other Services for Homeless

Article excerpt

Byline: CAREN BURMEISTER

In the past two weeks, since the holidays have passed and evictions and layoffs have resumed, five homeless families with children have appealed to Beaches Emergency Assistance Ministry for financial help.

Demands for food stamps, job counseling and housing assistance have steadily increased, as have the number of homeless people seeking meals and cold-night shelter, Beaches-area social service coordinators said.

"It's scary. It's really scary," said Vivian Southwell, executive director of BEAM at 850 Sixth Ave. S. in Jacksonville Beach. "Almost everybody who has come in the last two weeks has lost their job."

Mission House, a Jacksonville Beach day center that provides meals, showers and clothing for homeless people, served 85 people at lunchtime Jan. 12, about 25 percent more than usual, said Executive Director Jan Flager.

The next day, 79 homeless people sought cold-night shelter at a Beaches church that works with Mission House and other churches to open its doors when the temperature drops below freezing. Typically, about 55 people take advantage of the cold-night shelter, Flager said.

In its first week, the new Beaches Community Healthcare clinic treated about 20 people a day, as many as its one doctor or nurse practitioner can safely see, said Cindy Funkhouser, vice president of health services at the Sulzbacher Center in Jacksonville, which oversees the clinic.

"We didn't really know what to expect," she said of the clinic that opened Jan. 13 next door to BEAM. "But the fact that we're already at capacity within a week ... I'm a little worried about what that means for the future."

The clinic will probably have to add volunteer physicians to its skeleton crew of employees sooner than it had expected, she said.

WorkSource, a publicly funded agency that teaches resume writing, job interviewing and networking skills, helped 70 people in the first two weeks of 2009. …

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