[Hpn] Florida -Outdoor shelter satisfactory for some homeless

media@ccsi.com media@ccsi.com
Wed, 13 Jun 2001 22:32:35 -0500

Outdoor shelter satisfactory for some homeless

By Alliniece T. Andino 
Times-Union staff writer 

Two years ago, former City Councilman Howard Dale suggested an outdoor
shelter might coax some of Jacksonville's homeless off the streets.

The idea came after debate of a proposed city ordinance to jail people who
were warned about sleeping on public or private property and who refused to
go to a homeless shelter.

The arguments faded, but the City Rescue Mission renewed the idea of an
outdoor shelter this year. A conception is drawn and money is being raised
for the $150,000 project.

About 200 to 300 people walk Jacksonville streets unable to find shelter
each night, said Linda Lanier, executive director of the I.M. Sulzbacher
Center for the Homeless.

Some homeless people refuse to sleep in shelters because they are mentally
unstable, mistrust others or fear that their belongings will be stolen,
said George Bass, development officer of the City Rescue Mission. An
outdoor shelter can cajole people from under bridges, out of tents in
wooded areas and away from storefronts.

Lanier said an outdoor camp is a great idea for people who can't manage
shelter life and its rules.

Proponents of the outdoor approach say it links homeless people to other
services such as meals, counseling, health care and transportation. They
have a secure surrounding with access to showers, bathrooms and laundry
facilities. Also, the homeless become familiar with indoor facilities
necessary on cold winter nights.

A 7-foot brick wall will be built around the parking area to accommodate 40
to 60 people a night and up to 80 when necessary, Bass said. The Design
Review Committee of the Downtown Development Authority approved the plans
May 31.

Construction is expected begin in the fall and should be completed by winter.

"Our main purpose is to reach these people with some type of counseling and
deal with whatever reason there is that they're on the street," he said.

Bill Vineyard, a retired executive who volunteers at the City Rescue
Mission, fathered the idea of an outdoor shelter when a homeless woman
checked in and quickly checked out. When Vineyard asked why she was
leaving, the woman said she just couldn't stand sleeping indoors.

About $40,000 has been raised by Vineyard's family foundation, his former
employer General Electric and some GE executives.

"I think that as a society we owe everybody a place to sleep, regardless of
why they're homeless," Vineyard said.

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