Proposed center that would provide men with permanent housing gets pushback from community

There’s a push to put new housing for men trying to get off the streets, but residents around Golfair Boulevard are raising concerns.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There’s a push to put new housing for men trying to get off the streets, but residents around Golfair Boulevard are raising concerns.

The Sulzbacher Center is looking to build a facility that would provide permanent housing for men looking to get back on their feet and off the street. It would be built near the intersection of Golfair Boulevard and Interstate 95. Specifically at the end of Walgreen Road which is wooded right now and undeveloped, not directly by other neighborhoods.

But there is some concern among residents on the Northside.

The facility, if built, would house men as well as offer things like medical care, housing, job training and a manufacturing facility.

News4JAX spoke with Ju’Coby Pittman who is the city council member for the district.

“We have a lot of crime. There’s no employment or training in that district,” said Pittman. “In order for that to come to the neighborhood, we have to come to a compromise and fix some of the things going on in that district.”

News4JAX also spoke with several residents in the area who said jobs and easy access to shopping are almost impossible to find in the Golfair area and residents really struggle as a result.

“Because there’s no job in the area. It’s like you have to go so far out to get a job,” said Mark, a resident who asked not to give his last name. “It’s why crime’s up like this.”

Cindy Funkhouser is CEO for Sulzbacher and said this would be a similar facility to the one built a few years ago in the Brentwood neighborhood at 44th and Pearl. That is a facility that provides permanent housing to women and children. Funkhouser said that the facility has helped the Brentwood community in both lowering crime and keeping property values up. In fact, she said property values have increased approximately 40% during its time there.

“We want to be a good partner to the community. We’ve been a great partner here and about five years ago we were in the same situation where this community, they were concerned. They didn’t know what we were going to be doing. Are we bringing a shelter? Are we bringing food lines? We explained to them that we weren’t,” she said.

Funkhouser said Sulzbacher is in the process of doing due diligence to research the project as it works through the permitting process with the city.

There will be more opportunities for residents to speak out to the city council about this project. If it’s approved without any problems, Funkhouser believes it could break ground within nine months to a year.


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