A VERY SPECIAL DINNER
On February 20 the Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry hosted a dinner gathering at St. Francis House for the homeless community, to meet with them and listen to their concerns. This was the first time for such an event and there were a few glitches, since more people attended than were expected. Nevertheless, it was a very successful and positive event. Everywhere we went last night on our driveout people were talking about this dinner and saying how much they enjoyed the experience. Historically, as a community, we haven’t done nearly enough to include the homeless community in the conversation. This effort in that direction was deeply appreciated by our homeless friends.
Theresa Lowe, Coalition Director, opened the meeting by thanking the homeless community for helping with the annual Point-in-Time Survey and reporting on the initial findings. The PIT Survey is sponsored by HUD and is a count of the homeless population over a 48-hour period. It also includes questions on why people are homeless, and what their needs are. It is a snapshot taken of a moving target over a brief period of time, so there are always people who aren’t counted. Statisticians work with the figures in their own mysterious (to me) way of extrapolating a more exact count. Theresa reported the following figures (not extrapolated figures but the actual number counted):
(1) 985 unsheltered homeless people
(2) more than 1000 homeless people in shelter
(3) 400 homeless children, as reported by the Alachua County School District (all of whom have families who may not have been counted)
(4) 300 chronically homeless people, defined as people who have been homeless for more than one year
Theresa referred to these numbers, particularly the 985 unsheltered homeless people, as “staggering,” especially when compared on, a per capita basis, with other cities. Denver, Colorado, for example, counted 1000 unsheltered homeless people in their PIT Survey.
Then Commisssioner Randy Wells reported on the city’s efforts to acquire the old prison complex on 39th Avenue for a new homeless shelter and one-stop center. He was able to report that negotiations with the State are going well. He then asked for feedback from the community about what they would like to see this project include. We were not able to stay for the entire comment period, but while we were there the homeless people cited three major concerns they would like to see addressed:
(1) JOB TRAINING AND JOB OPPORTUNITIES (suggestions were met with enthusiastic applause)
(2) MORE AND BETTER ACCESS TO SHOWER AND LAUNDRY SERVICES
(3) A GREATER EFFORT TO TREAT HOMELESS PEOPLE WITH DIGNITY AND RESPECT, AND FOR HOMELESS PEOPLE TO TREAT EACH OTHER WITH DIGNITY AND RESPECT
Amen, amen, amen!
Commissioner Wells has a strong vision of this new center as a place where the entire community will come together to build something that is useful and beautiful, with not only shelter, health care, and job training, but also many other community projects such as organic gardens, murals painted by local artists, activities for children and more. He wants as many citizens as possible, housed and homeless, to participate in the process, now and after this facility opens. If you would like to be notified of meetings concerning the new one-stop center and/or if you have input about what you would like to see included at this center you can email Commissioner Wells at firstname.lastname@example.org
My SOS for more groceries was met by a cornucopia of good food! Many thanks to all of you. I now have enough food and better food. I have also received a good many tents and tarps from both groups and individuals, and the same with vitamins and batteries. We are a bit low on personal hygiene products, so keep us in mind for that. We never have enough razors, and shaving is a significant part of getting a job, so razors will be especially appreciated.
love and peace to everyone!
The Home Van needs tents, tarps, bottled water, bug spray,Vienna sausages, creamy peanut butter, jelly, candles, white tube socks, batteries, and games. Call 352-372-4825 to arrange for drop off. Financial donations to the Home Van should be in the form of checks made out to Citizens for Social Justice, Inc., earmarked for the Home Van, and mailed to 307 SE 6th Street, Gainesville, FL 32601, or can be made online at http://homevan.blogspot.com/
THE HOMEVAN IS A PROJECT OF CITIZENS FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE, INC. (FDACSREGISTRATION #CH35643). A COPY OF THE OFFICIAL REGISTRATION AND FINANCIAL INFORMATION MAY BE OBTAINED FROM THE DIVISION OF CONSUMER SERVICES BY CALLING TOLL-FREE (800-435-7352) WITHIN THE STATE.REGISTRATION DOES NOT IMPLY ENDORSEMENT, APPROVAL, OR RECOMMENDATION BY THE STATE.