Controversy over homeless day center location | News

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Controversy over homeless day center location
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Springfield residents are saying: "Not in my neighborhood."

The sentiment comes after the mayor revealed his plans to put a brand new low-cost, possibly free, homeless day center in the neighborhood.

There are the nine buildings in downtown Jacksonville the city is considering for the homeless day center, but it is the old armory building that has Springfield residents pushing back.

"Yeah a day center, something is desperately needed," said Sharon, who does not want her last name used.

Sharon has been homeless on and off for two years.

She is grateful to hear the city plans to open a new homeless day center.

"If you have an alcohol problem or drug problem, you can get in the programs really fast," Sharon said about other homeless shelters in the city. "But I don't have either one of those so I fall through those cracks."

The Drop-In Day Center would serve a different purpose than the city's overnight shelters. It would be open 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Friday in the initial stages, providing showers, food, laundry and computer access to those who need it.

The old armory building on North Market Street is by far the biggest of the nine buildings being considered, at almost 90,000 square feet.

"It's very close to Springfield and that movement will affect Springfield, definitely," explained Mallik Singareddy, a Springfield resident.

Singareddy is renovating several Springfield properties, including one just down the street from the old armory building.

"There are so many homeless people already here staying, so we are trying to get this place back," Singareddy said. "We are trying to approach the mayor and the councilmen."

But one of Springfield's city council members, Dr. Johnny Gaffney, said the news is also a surprise to him, adding he was "livid" to be kept in the dark by the mayor's administration.

Mayor Alvin Brown was not available for an interview, but spokesman David DeCamp told First Coast News the city council and residents weren't informed because the city is still assessing potential locations.

Gaffney said he is also concerned about how the building renovation and project will be funded.

Planning documents from the city estimate it could cost $30,000 dollars to operate the project, plus utilities and one staff member salary of $36,000.

Other positions and supplies will come from private social services.

The city is committed to choosing a location by the end of the year.

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