The Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition of Northeast Florida (ESHC) recently released data from its annual count of homeless persons in the region. According to a recent Florida Times-Union story, the data revealed that chronic homelessness city-wide decreased by 60 percent over the past six years. This decrease can be attributed to a number of factors, including an improving economy, the “Housing First” model (finding stable, permanent housing quickly) and strong partnerships among service providers.
In the past year alone, significant decreases were observed in the number of chronically homeless individuals (25% decrease) and in the number of homeless veterans (18%), with an 11% overall decrease in the number of homeless persons in Northeast Florida.
These decreases are reflected in Downtown Jacksonville. Downtown Ambassadors report that they are cleaning up fewer campsites this spring than they did last year and also report a reduction in the number of people sleeping Downtown.
How can you help those people in need who you may come across? The most important thing you can do is resist the urge to give to a panhandler – panhandling is illegal Downtown and frequently feeds addiction rather than basic needs. Additionally, breakfast, lunch and dinner are served seven days a week in the Downtown area. If you are interested in helping individuals break the cycle of homelessness, consider donating your time or money to one of the organizations listed below:
- City Rescue Mission, 234 W. State St., 904-387-4357
- Clara White Mission, 613 W. Ashley St., 904-354-4162
- Salvation Army, 900 W. Adams St., 904-356-8641
- The Sulzbacher Center, 611 E. Adams St., 904-359-0457
- Trinity Rescue Mission, 622 W. Union St., 904-355-1205
For more information on Downtown social services, email firstname.lastname@example.org.