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Jax Looks To Help Homeless While Revitalizing Downtown

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Jacksonville officials are discussing how to help the homeless while also working to revitalize downtown.Much of the discussion at a community meeting this morning convened by City Council President Bill Gulliford  focused on the problems the homeless face and how to get them off the streets.

Shannon Nazworth with Ability Housing, which finds housing for low-income individuals, said the meeting was a start to solve a complicated problem that goes beyond downtown Jacksonville.

"Having conversations like this really are very important. It does take everyone coming together, understanding the issue, working hard to find solutions," she said.

"The one thing we need to remember is we all want the same thing. We want a vibrant downtown and we don't want any homeless individuals living in our community and together we can make that happen."

Several speakers noted that Florida and the First Coast are near the bottom when it comes to spending on mental health services. Many homeless with mental illness problems only get treatment when they get arrested.

Gulliford said downtown and homeless advocates will meet again in January. 

You can follow Kevin Meerschaert on Twitter @KMeerschaertJax.

Kevin Meerschaert has left WJCT for new pursuits. He was the producer of First Coast Connect until October of 2018.