A new campus to better serve the changing face of homelessness
They are known as the “invisible homeless.”
Families with children have become the fastest growing segment of homelessness, but you might not always see them. They often double up on housing or “couch surf” to avoid living on the streets.
To combat this changing face of homelessness and in alliance with its 20th anniversary, the Sulzbacher Center has announced its plan to develop and open a new campus: the Sulzbacher Center for Women and Families.
With a new facility, located north of Springfield, the Sulzbacher Center aims to serve the twentyone-hundred children that Duval County schools estimated as homeless just last year, and the one-hundred and twenty, plus, families on the waiting list at the Downtown location.
Originally founded in 1995 to provide temporary shelter to homeless men, the Sulzbacher Center has watched the demographics behind homelessness shift, according to Cindy Funkhouser, president and CEO. “We really started seeing more families when the recession hit,” she says.
The shelter requires an intensive assessment for intake. Over the years, the reason for application listed by a majority of potential shelter residents moved from mental illness or substance abuse to acute poverty. It was a very clear, very sharp change.
“We track turn-away numbers, and as we saw those shooting up, we realized we have to find a different solution,” says Funkhouser.
With the influx of women, children, and families, Sulzbacher Center staff have difficulty managing all of these different groups on a single campus. Because it is federally funded, the current facility has an open campus, and only the children’s area can be locked, providing minimal security to its three-hundred and sixty residents.
Following a national trend moving toward more permanent housing, two-thirds of the new facility will be long-term, and the current Downtown facility will be refocused toward single room occupancy to replace the large, gaping men’s dormitories. Moving women, children, and families to the new location will also open up space at the Downtown campus for more extensive adult services and programs as well as rooms for medical respite, which provides medical care to those too frail or ill to recover from a physical illness or injury on the streets.
Article written by Kate Jolley