One of David Brown’s roommates has a pet scorpion, another, a quilt with a sweet-looking cat stitched on it.
The 50-year-old decorated his space plainly. A blue blanket, white sheets and a few other belongings sit on his dresser. He said he was excited to spend the night in a bed.
Brown is one of the first few people to move into Dorm A at Grace Marketplace.
The emergency shelter, located in Gainesville, has provided temporary overnight accommodation at an enclosed pavilion on its campus. On Wednesday it opened its first dorm, providing a more permanent housing option for those interested.
Theresa Lowe, the executive director of Grace Marketplace, said the shelter tries to take everyone as they come and provide what they need.
People interested must adhere to certain criteria to be considered to move into the dorms.
“They have to demonstrate they are ready to take the next step,” Lowe said.
Residents must agree to move forward, either get a job or volunteer on the campus, and are expected to work with a case manager to form a care plan.
Brown volunteered as a painter for Grace Marketplace to show his dedication to transition from a life on the streets into permanent housing of his own.
The dorms are not meant to be permanent, said Lowe. People typically will live there for a 60-to 120-day period.
Grace Marketplace provides several services for the homeless that inhabit its campus, including disability application help, mail, two meals per day and showers.
“We’re hoping to still see some more forward progress,” said Lowe. “But everyone has the right to decide what they want to do.”