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

Bo Diddley One

Tallahassee Homeless Ordinance Creates Conversation In Gainesville

A potential ordinance in Tallahassee, which would strictly limit the presence of homeless people in public places, was discussed Friday. Some Gainesville officials are advocating for a more collaborative way to address the issue.


The band members of Guts, from left to right: Kara Smith, bass and vocals; Samantha Jones, guitar, bass, drums and vocals; Kentucky Costellow, drums; and Rebecca Butler, keys and tenor ukulele. Guts plays for campers in the Gainesville Girls Rock Camp on Friday after lunch. The camp, which is in its third year, focuses on using music to empower young girls. Christine Preston / WUFT News

Rock Camp Empowers Young Girls In Gainesville

The Gainesville Girls Rock Camp uses music to empower young girls and teens. Girls gain self-confidence throughout the program and learn to encourage each another.


Signs indicating unsafe levels of bacteria in Hogtown Creek were posted in June, according to Linda Demetropoulos, nature manager of the city of Gainesville Parks Department. Visitors can find these signs around various areas of local parks.

Hogtown Creek Bacteria Levels Unsafe For Human Use

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department has found unsafe levels of bacteria in Hogtown Creek waters.


I-75 at MM385 is backed up due to manhunt. Photo via @GACSmarttraffic.

I-75 Shut Down After Trooper Involved In Shooting

Update 7/27/2015 at 7:15 p.m.: The suspect has been identified as Earl Jackson, according to a news release from the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.


Kristen Hadeed, founder of Student Maid, and Rich Blaser, co-founder of Infinite Energy, explain how Josh impacted the start-up community in Gainesville. They were part of a group of young entrepreneurs in Gainesville who met monthly to discuss their work.

Memorial Held for Gainesville Entrepreneur

A memorial for Josh Greenberg, the co-founder of music streaming service Grooveshark, was held Friday evening at the Phillips Center. He was found dead in his home July 19.


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
Underwriting Payments