Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Agrees to Restore Some of Its Sulzbacher Funding; Planned Protest Called off after Women's Shelter Gets Assurance about Money

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

City Agrees to Restore Some of Its Sulzbacher Funding; Planned Protest Called off after Women's Shelter Gets Assurance about Money

Article excerpt

Byline: Matt Soergel

The bright green T-shirts were handed out and put on. The homemade protest signs, attached to yardsticks, were in a neat stack. The yellow bus was ready for the short trip from the Sulzbacher Center to City Hall, to carry those who couldn't march there.

Turns out none of that was needed. About an hour before a protest was to begin Tuesday afternoon, the city sent a letter to the homeless shelter: It will get the money it needs to keep open its women's shelter, which houses up to 80 single women at a time.

That was good news for Augustina Linsky, 59, one of dozens ready to march to a City Council meeting in bright green shirts with Sulzbacher logos on them. She came to the shelter three weeks ago after losing her job.

"I'd be lost without them. I don't know where I'd be," she said.

David DeCamp, a spokesman for Mayor Alvin Brown, said Tuesday afternoon that he wasn't aware that a march on City Hall was planned. The city had been working for several weeks with the Sulzbacher to restore some funding, he said, and told the center on Monday that the money would be coming - a promise that they would put in writing, as requested by the shelter.

Sulzbacher CEO Cindy Funkhouser, though, said she didn't feel the city had made its commitment clear on Monday. "They were trying, they were looking, but we had no firm commitment," she said.

So on Tuesday she went on First Coast Connect, WJCT 89.9 FM's morning show, and talked about the potential cuts, as well as the planned march on City Hall. Residents of the women's center were prepared, she said, to speak during the open comments section of the council meeting.

"We're very, very grateful to the mayor's office," Funkhouser said Tuesday afternoon. "You know what's going on with the budget, so for them to come up with the money for this is huge."

Sulzbacher, which is designated a city homeless shelter and relies heavily on city funding and donations, was facing a more than $580,000 cut. It won't get it all, but it will get back $297,780 in what DeCamp called "unallocated grant money."

Funkhouser said the center was prepared for cuts, but not that much. …

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