The Jacksonville City Council is asking for more information about a homeless day shelter that’s set to close at the end of this month.
Dozens of shelter advocates showed up at City Hall Monday night, pleading for funding to not be cut from the city’s budget.
The Jacksonville Day Resource Center gives homeless people a place to shower, escape the heat and receive social services.
At Monday’s meeting, advocates wore matching T-shirts. Speaker David Miller said he found himself out of work about a year ago.
“I didn’t know what to do,” Miller said. “I saw them help hundreds of people. They support everybody who comes through that door. That place gave me the self-respect that you deserved and you needed.”
Miller said center staff connected him with shelter, food and clothing.
Councilman Reggie Gaffney said the center’s closing came as a surprise to Council.
“I’m lost with words because I feel your pain,” Gaffney said to a homeless veteran who spoke on behalf of the center. “I’ve been trying to, for the last 60 days, find some kind of data. I’m hearing about 125 people [were] using it. Nobody brought up the day care program to most of the Council around here, so we didn’t know. But what I would do is try to be an advocate for it in Finance Committee meetings.”
Two years ago, the day center began as a pilot program. Sam Mousa with the city says his team intended to fund the center’s Executive Director position further until it was apparent the center wasn’t getting funding elsewhere.
“We weren’t requested for this funding, nor were we aware that this funding was required,” Mousa said to the Council. “It wasn’t brought to our attention. No one asked for it.”
Councilman Reggie Brown sponsored an amendment that would have put some Jacksonville Journey funding toward the center, but it failed to pass. The Journey is an umbrella initiative for programs that focus on stopping crime in the city.
Council members say they need more information about the center’s impact on the homeless community and exactly how much money it needs to stay open.