Sulzbacher Center wants to move out of Downtown Jacksonville

Plan to move to new facility includes creating for-profit manufacturing business as social enterprise

The city has now closed this downtown homeless camp -- moving those who stayed there to a temporary housing shelter nearby. We also learned a downtown fixture for the homeless the Sulzbacher center is planning to move out of downtown. News4jax reporter Jim Piggott is joining us LIVE from the new shelter.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Sulzbacher Center, which has been operating in Downtown Jacksonville for 25 years, could be headed elsewhere if the homeless shelter’s president can get buy in for a multi-million-dollar project.

Cindy Funkhouser, president and CEO of Sulzbacher Center, told a meeting of Downtown business leaders that residents have had to be evacuated and the campus was damaged in the last two hurricanes because the current location was left under more than 4 feet of water.

The goal is to create a space like the Sulzbacher Village for women and families with permanent housing, short term units and wraparound services, like health care and job training, Funkhouser said.

“But the thing that would make it different is a for-profit manufacturing business that we hope to start as a social enterprise, which would train our people in a living wage job in the construction field,” Funkhouser told News4Jax. “We want people to be able to earn $15 or $20 an hour so that they can actually afford their own housing and afford to live and be self-sufficient.”

To make it work, Sulzbacher needs to have property donated, hopefully right outside the Urban Core and would need investors. The project would be completed in phases, starting with the social enterprise business, then the permanent housing and then adding all the wraparound services and emergency housing.

“Our goal at Sulzbacher is to end homelessness and not continue to perpetuate it. So we’re looking for the solutions, which is jobs and housing,” Funkhouser said. “That’s what we’re looking at.”

Funkhouser said ambitiously, she hopes to see the project completed in three years.

About the Author:

Jim Piggott is the reporter to count on when it comes to city government and how it will affect the community.