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Jacksonville's Homeless Worry As Day Shelter Prepares To Close

Lindsey Kilbride

A Jacksonville homeless center is set to close at the end of the month because it’s been cut from the city budget.


On Thursday, people were sitting around picnic tables outside the Jacksonville Day Resource Center downtown. One of them, an Air Force Veteran named Horace Gordon, had his walker close by.

“I should be cared for, looked after,” Gordon said. “Because I made sure we have a country so we could all enjoy it. But they don’t care about us. They’re going to come up and shut the place down. It’s not fair.”

The Jacksonville Day Resource center offers people a place to shower, use a computer, talk to social services and on a hot day like Thursday, step into an air-conditioned room.

Inside, about 20 people were watching a movie, others on computers. Artis Harvey came in to get out of the sun. He says most overnight shelters force everyone out at the crack of dawn.

“Everybody’s talking about, ‘Where we gonna go?’” Harvey said. “They just go crowd up the park around city hall. And thank God for this place because it’s the only place we got to go.”>>

The center opened in 2013 as a pilot program, and relied on city money to stay open. Tillis DeVaugh will be the center’s director until October.

“The program is ending because of funding,” DeVaugh said.”But the problem is still there, the concern is still there.”

The center’s Board Chair Dawn Gilman told our news partner News4Jax, it relies on several agencies to donate time and resources, and that’s simply not sustainable.

Gilman said, “We will be working with our different partners on ‘How do we recreate that?’ or create that same sort of low barrier to entry at different agencies?”

Gilman says low barrier means the center made it easy for people to get access in.

Gilman also says the demand has gone down, with chronic homelessness declining over the last few years.

Lindsey Kilbride was WJCT's special projects producer until Aug. 28, 2020. She reported, hosted and produced podcasts like Odd Ball, for which she was honored with a statewide award from the Associated Press, as well as What It's Like. She also produced VOIDCAST, hosted by Void magazine's Matt Shaw, and the ADAPT podcast, hosted by WJCT's Brendan Rivers.