JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

The Jacksonville Day Resource Center downtown is now operational, thanks to a wide-ranging community partnership that worked closely with the city of Jacksonville to bring the long-discussed idea into reality, the city announced Monday.

"The Jacksonville Day Resource Center speaks to the heart and soul of this community," Mayor Alvin Brown said. "It speaks to our economic priorities, our drive to be proactive about downtown improvement and our will to do what we can to help place the less fortunate on a path to self-sufficiency."

The center will begin as a one-year pilot project to measure its effectiveness in improving the coordination and delivery of services to homeless people, and in improving relationships between the indigent, downtown businesses, their customers, and residents and visitors in the downtown area.

"This pilot project will allow service providers the opportunity to connect with persons who historically have been difficult to engage," said Dawn Gilman, CEO of Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition of Jacksonville Inc. "We believe the day center will improve outcomes for those who come."

"It's a one-stop center trying to provide everything from the most basic needs to the most complex situations, giving people a strategy to get out of homelessness," said Dawn Gilman, of the center.

The location will serve as a safe, hospitable day resource center for the downtown homeless population, where those in need can access a wide array of providers and services. The center will provide resources including showers, food, laundry facilities, and computer/phone access, as well as single point of contact for other services provided by inter-agency stakeholders within the community.

"It proves that there are still people who care. I mean they're trying to do something. I think it's a big step forward," said Robert Lee, who will use the day center.

"We are so thrilled and grateful that after years of trying, we will finally have a place where the hundreds of people who live on the street can come for their daily needs and for connection to long term help," said Cindy Funkhouser, CEO of the Sulzbacher Center.

ACON Construction provided $130,000 worth of in-kind labor and materials and VRL Architects performed design work as an in-kind contribution. Wells Fargo contributed $70,000 and the city of Jacksonville committed $120,000 in Community Development Block Grant funding to move the project forward. The city said its Neighborhoods Department has taken an active role, along with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office and the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.

Phase one of the day center is officially complete, but phase two is still being worked on. That's going to include showers and laundry facilities for the homeless. It will be complete next month.