The Gainesville City Commission unanimously approved agreements Feb. 6 for the local non-profit Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry to provide services at the new homeless center.
The homeless center will be located at the former Gainesville Correctional Institute property on Northeast 39th Avenue, which covers around 40 acres.
Theresa Lowe, Executive Director of the ACCHH, said they are in the process of getting the agreement signed and will begin offering services May 1.
“When we first open, we plan to provide income services, which will be basic day services,” she said. “We’ll have a place where people can come and get a meal, sit down and relax for a while, get their mail and store their belongings.”
According to the press release, operations have not been finalized, but are expected to include meal service provision, emergency shelter, intake and counseling services, along with more services to be identified later.
Lowe said capacity will start at 100 people — 50 men and 50 women — and they will expand the number of barracks on an as-needed basis. In addition to residents, the ACCHH hopes to provide meals for another 100 people per day.
The ultimate goal is to relocate the homeless, who tend to flock to the downtown plaza, to the new shelter, Lowe said.
According to the ACCHH website, findings from the Alachua County Homeless Census conducted in January 2012 showed the total number of homeless people was 2,094, up from 1,781 the year before.
The Gainesville City Commission and the Alachua County Board of Commissioners will provide a combined funding of $380,000 per year.
Lowe assuaged the worries regarding what is taking so long.
“Some of the time delays are due to waiting for physical plant things to get done,” Lowe said. “The last I heard there wasn’t hot water in the dorms, so once we have hot water, then we can offer showers and be able to offer emergency shelter for people, as well.”
Lowe said she encourages Alachua County residents to attend the town hall meeting on Feb. 10 at 6 p.m. at the Senior Center and provide input.
“We really want to know what the community thinks and what the community feels is needed because that is the only way we’re gonna grow and really be successful,” Lowe said.