WUFT News

Ocala Organization Acquires Shelter Property For Some Of City’s Homeless

By on March 22nd, 2014
The back of St. Mark’s Fellowship Hall at 1839 NE 8th Road, where the Open Arms Village shelter will be.

Alexandrea DaCosta / WUFT News

The back of St. Mark’s Fellowship Hall at 1839 NE 8th Road, where the Open Arms Village shelter will be.

About 25 of Ocala’s homeless women and men will have a place to stay this fall, following a deal struck between Open Arms Village and St. Mark’s United Methodist Church this week.

On Monday, St. Mark’s announced plans to let Open Arms Village transform former church classrooms into future shelter for the city’s homeless, located at 1839 NE 8th Road.

Open Arms, an organization aiming to provide housing and job opportunities for the homeless, has been trying to secure a location for its mission since 2012.

Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn began working with the organization at that time, but he said potential plans kept falling through. The deal struck Monday will allow the organization to move forward.

Guinn said he was originally inspired by Pinellas Hope, a St. Petersburg tent-city shelter, and wanted to help start a similar program in Ocala.

Pinellas Hope, which was started in 2007, runs a shelter ministry that assists 250 homeless men and women, according to their website. The shelter offers residents GED and resume-writing classes as well as services such as assigned case managers.

Though securing a location was difficult, looking back, Guinn said the drawn-out process might have been for the best.

“It’s good because I think this location fits and the church mission fits,” he said.

Guinn said the church is near community businesses, so getting jobs within walking distance will be attainable for future residents. The church also plans on offering the residents volunteer opportunities.

According to Rev. Susan Gray of St. Mark’s, the church was praying for a mission when it decided to make a deal with Open Arms. She said the building the church agreed to let Open Arms use is in good condition.

“It has commercial bathrooms and rooms for sleeping spaces, and there’s ample outdoor space,” she said.

Daniel Horton, executive director of the Marion County Homeless Council, said Open Arms will make a big impact because it aims to help integrate homeless people back into the community by not only putting a roof over their heads and but also helping them re-learn work skills.

As of January 2013, the homeless population of Marion County was about 530 people, according to the last Point-in-Time count conducted by the Marion County Continuum of Care.

Horton said there is an absolute need for more programs like Open Arms in the area, since available shelters such as Salvation Army and Project Hope are “always full.”

He said both the Salvation Army and Interfaith Emergency Services, another shelter, are looking to expand their facilities, but they do not have the resources.

“The fact is, we’re in this position because of the economy,” Horton said. “Our median monthly income has dropped for two years in a row. That’s pretty bad when some of our programs require aid.”


This entry was posted in Local and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Local

Gainesville's Labor Daze Fest attracted attendees for music and political conversation. Jon Uman, candidate for State House 21, was also in attendance.

Labor Daze Fest Provides Venue for Music and Politics

Gainesville’s annual Labor Day event, Labor Daze Fest, attracted visitors for fun as well as for political conversation. Minimum wage and labor unions were among the topics some attendees hoped to hear more about.


Alachua County Sheriff’s Office To Supervise Waldo After Ticketing Charges

A plan, under development, would allow the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office to supervise Waldo police operations after allegations that the former chief and interim chief established illegal ticketing quotas.


University of Florida President Bernie Machen is doused with ice water for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. Machen was nominated to participate in the nationwide campaign by Kéran Billaud, a Ph.D. student at UF.

UF President Participates in ALS ‘Ice Bucket Challenge’

University of Florida President Bernie Machen participated in the ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” on Monday. Machen nominated all YouTube viewers as well as the president of UF Student Government and the vice president of the UF Division of Student Affairs.


State Buys Land For Florida Greenway

State park managers have said they will be buying or trading land in Marion, Palm Beach, and Jackson counties. This is to fill the gaps of the Marjorie Harris Carr Cross Florida Greenway, a recreational outdoor area that spans 110 [...]


The charred remains of a Levy County home are all that remain following a fire that killed two people early Wednesday morning, August 20, 2014. (Virginia Hamrick/WUFT News)

Two People Die in Levy County Home Fire

Local law enforcement and the State Fire Marshal’s Office are investigating a mobile home fire that occurred in Levy County early Wednesday morning.  Lt. Scott Tummond of Levy County Sheriff’s Office said the Bronson Fire Department responded to calls at [...]


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Day Sponsorship Payments
Underwriting Payments