JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Starting Monday, the city of Jacksonville began moving people who are experiencing homelessness into hotels.
It’s part of a new program called Pathway to Home.
The outreach has started at a homeless encampment on city property downtown at Union and Jefferson streets. According to the city, the program’s first 53 participants are being moved into extended-stay hotels, the names of which are being withheld for their own safety.
The program is in collaboration with the city, Sulzbacher Center, Mental Health Resource Center, Changing Homelessness, Downtown Vision and Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
“Unfortunately, due to COVID, we are seeing an increase in street homelessness,” Cindy Funkhouser, CEO of Sulzbacher said on “The Morning Show” Saturday. “The Pathway to Home project is very critical, very exciting.”
Through the program, people facing homelessness will be set up in an extended stay hotel for 30 days and receive food and mental health help. During that time, the goal is to help them find long-term housing.
“This is not a Band-Aid approach,” Funkhouser said. This is a resolution of the person’s homelessness, so when we move them into a hotel, we do not ever plan for them to go back to the street. We plan that they move directly into permanent housing. They will have all the case management and wraparound services that they need to remain stable, and that’s the answer and the solution to homelessness is permanent housing.”
The city said between $550,000 and $650,000 is currently available for the project.
“It’s good. It shows improvement in the right direction,” community activist Brennan Reed said. “It shows that people do care and we are a city that’s attempting to show that we care about everybody equally. Some people are just in a tight spot. They need a little help, a push forward.”
The Pathway to Home program has inspired others into action. Claudia Liner and her sister started a program called Radical Aid Jax. They are helping to feed and clothe people on the wait list and also provide temporary shelter.
“We’ve provided all of these new tents, and the community bought those on the Radical Aid Jax Instagram,” she explained.
City officials say participants in the Pathway to Home program are being assessed individually, with the goal of customizing a solution to in order to find them a home.
There are several ways you can help with this mission to end homelessness in our community by purchasing a move-in kit or donating items like blankets or toiletries to the Trinity Rescue Mission.