St. Augustine commissioners have taken a significant step towards establishing a homeless day shelter in the city. The shelter will provide essential services such as food, showers, and resources to individuals experiencing homelessness. The approval came on Monday, when commissioners agreed to exchange a piece of city-owned land for the property where the shelter will be constructed. The chosen location for the shelter is at the intersection of State Road 207 and South Dixie Highway.
The idea of a day center for the homeless was initially discussed during the first of several public meetings between the city and community members to address homelessness concerns. In addition to these discussions, a survey is also being conducted to gather feedback from residents regarding the creation of a strategic plan to tackle unsheltered homelessness.
Ellen Walden, the executive director at Home Again St. Johns, expressed excitement about the day shelter, emphasizing the convenience of having a centralized location where individuals in need can access various services without having to travel across the city. Currently, there are several resources available in the county to assist the homeless, but no dedicated space for them to meet and connect with these resources.
According to the city, the homeless population has increased by 33% compared to the previous year, with approximately 430 individuals experiencing homelessness. Barry Fox, the city’s homeless liaison, emphasized the significance of establishing such a shelter not only for St. Augustine but also on a national scale. While the city is still in the early stages of discussion, no timeline or projected cost for the shelter’s construction has been determined.
Reference: Action News Jax