By Angela Spears
First Coast News
JACKSONVILLE, FL -- The numbers are alarming when it comes to homelessness in Jacksonville. According to statistics from the Duval County Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition, there were 20,417 homeless people in Jacksonville in 2005. It found the overall homeless population has increased 11.2% in a year. It seems more of the homeless these days are women and children.
On any given day in Jacksonville, there are 832 homeless adult women and 322 homeless children. Trinity Rescue Mission is working to help those in need. This week it opened the new Women and Children's Center. The Mission's Executive Director, Gene Pruett, says, "Women are the fastest growing homeless population."
Trinity Rescue Mission has been serving the homeless and working poor in the River City since 1964. Pruett says the goals of the new facility are to get women stabilized and then get them and their kids into permanent housing. This is not the only women's shelter in town. Pruett says they will work with other agencies to make sure women get all the services they need.
The new Women and Children's Center can hold up to 124 people. The Supervisor of the center, Kim Wells, says, "We just opened Monday and already we have 22 women and children. We had to turn away 6 people."
Homelessness is an issue some people don't like to talk about. According to Wells, "It's easy to ignore. It's also a hard problem to solve." Some people think of the homeless as men out on the streets. That's not always the case. Wells says women end up on the streets because of substance abuse and some just don't want to improve their situation. She says research has shown, "Seventy percent of women are homeless because of domestic problems."
When women stay at the shelter, Wells says they will get physical, spiritual and emotional help. The average length of stay will be up to 60 days. Women and children can get medical care on site. There is a playroom. Also, families can be together in one room. There is a dorm for single women.
The Women and Children's Center is looking for volunteers. Wells says, "We need people to play with the children, while we minister to the moms. We need people to work at the front counter and answer phones." For more information on how you can volunteer, Trinity Rescue Mission and the new facility, call (904) 355-1205 or click on the link above.
By the way, the staff at Trinity Rescue Mission will hold a grand opening ceremony for the new Women and Children's Center today, Wednesday August 16, at 9:30 a.m.
First Coast News