Homelessness

Five months after a multi-faceted, multi-agency summit on homelessness in Pensacola, very little concrete solutions have emerged. But some work is continuing behind the scenes.

According to Waterfront Rescue Mission, roughly 800 people – men, women and children – are homeless in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties at any one time.

“We met with [Escambia] County at the end of August, and we have a fairly good meeting over there,” said Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson. “I think we’re still coming down to the position of what we can do.”

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Almost four months after a “Homeless Summit” in Pensacola brought together both government and private entities, it appears the issue is being revisited.

Much of the work has been on hold, since the mass exodus of top-ranking officials in Escambia County government, and the hiring of several people at Pensacola City Hall. At his weekly news conference Monday, Mayor Grover Robinson said a meeting was held earlier this month with new administrators: Chris Holley for the City of Pensacola, and Escambia County’s Janice Gilley.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

Pensacola Mayor Grover Robinson welcomed about 100 students from high schools around the city, to his weekly news conference at City Hall on Monday.

Meeting in the City Council chamber instead of the Hagler Auditorium, Robinson fielded questions from the students on a wide range of issues, from economic development to preserving local historical landmarks to homelessness. On the latter, he told them he’s looking forward to following up on the “Homeless Summit” held earlier this month.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

The partial shutdown of the federal government; Pensacola’s homeless and ST Aerospace were among the topics at Mayor Grover Robinson’s weekly meeting with the media on Monday.

Robinson said at this particular time, they are not expecting any effects on the city by the shutdown, which is now in its fourth week.

“Now, if the shutdown continues further than February, we will have significant impact at that point; we will begin to see impacts,” said the Mayor.

Not so much the city operations, says Robinson, but more in areas such as housing.

Sandra Averhart / WUWF Public Media

The EscaRosa Coalition on the Homeless is no more. The agency has gotten a makeover, with a new name and a slightly new mission.

It’s now called Opening Doors Northwest Florida.

“The new name embodies being more open, not only for those that are homeless, making access to our organization more readily accessible,” said John Johnson, executive director. It also represents a focus on doing a better job serving the agency’s entire coverage area in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

Sandra Averhart

The EscaRosa Coalition on the Homeless (ECOH) conducted its annual Point In Time (PIT) count of homeless people in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties last week. Again this year, the count was capped off with their U-Count Homeless Resource Day, which serves as an expo for agencies offering services to the homeless.

Dave Dunwoody, WUWF Public Media

The EscaRosa Coalition on the Homeless, which serves Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, is conducting its annual “Point in Time” count of the homeless.

On a bright sunny Wednesday morning the courtyard at the Alfred Washburn Center, complete with picnic tables and a serving area for food and drink, is abuzz with activity. Volunteers are mingling with Washburn clients, taking surveys. Also with a clipboard is the Coalition’s Executive Director, John Johnson.

Courtesy of EscaRosa Coalition on the Homeless.

The EscaRosa Coalition on the Homeless is gearing up for their annual "point in time" survey to take place on January 25 in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

ECOH Marketing Director Serene Keiek and Housing Director Dianna Moore recently stopped by WUWF to talk with Sandra Averhart about the purpose and importance of the homeless count. Also, they’re seeking volunteers to help conduct the survey and to assist with their U-Count Homeless Resource Day event to follow.

Below is a transcript of their conversation.

It’s the holidays, and that means lots of shopping, planning, preparing and general good will towards our fellow human beings.  That goodwill can come in the form of a smile at the checkout, or it can be something much more substantial, valuable & often necessary.

In this season of commercial consumerism, it's easy to forget that there are many in need in our community.  Luckily there are organizations and people here to help people like Roslyn Guyette.

  A new homeless shelter and service center for single women in the western Panhandle is set to open in the next 60 days or so.

Women with Clear Vision’s facility is located at 2316 N. Pace Blvd. Its focus is on homelessness awareness. For co-founder, Pastor Ingar Flagg, this is personal. She’s drawing upon her own personal experience of being jailed for bad checks, and of being homeless.

Calls are going out from the EscaRosa Coalition on the Homeless, for volunteers to take part in the annual count of the homeless on January 27-28.

“Point in Time” allows agencies that provide services to the homeless to get a handle on the overall population in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties, and how to tailor those services to help move them out of homelessness.

“We actually dispersed teams out on the street and in areas where the homeless normally gather: Alfred Washburn Center, Salvation Army, places like that,” said Alison Griffith, the program’s coordinator.

One Hopeful Place Breaks Ground In Okaloosa County

Dec 16, 2015
Community Solutions

  Community Solutions, partnered with the Greater Ft. Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce recently broke ground on One Hopeful Place, a facility intended to aid the homeless in Okaloosa County. WUWF’s Danielle Freeman reports although the groundbreaking is just the beginning of several phases the center will go through before completion in 2016, the community is eager about its potential.

One Hopeful Night In Okaloosa County

Dec 3, 2015
Photo via Flickr// Franco Folini / https://flic.kr/p/jbskb

Community Solutions, partnered with the Greater Ft. Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce will host an overnight event called One Hopeful Night. The purpose of the event is to allow participants to experience what it’s like to be homeless for a night while raising awareness and funds for a new resource center for the homeless opening next year.

T. S. Strickland

When temperatures spike, as they did during last week’s heat wave, the first to feel the heat are often the area’s homeless residents.

 

 

Area experts say though most homeless citizens are resilient and able to make do with existing resources, many particularly women, families and those with illnesses – struggle to find shelter and stay hydrated when temperatures climb.

Robert Marbut, who has spent three decades working on homeless issues, visited Pensacola Wednesday and conducted a Community Forum on Homelessness sponsored by the City.

Speaking in the City Council Chambers, Marbut outlined his work with dozens of cities, and his involvement in establishing Haven for Hope in his hometown of San Antonio -- where homelessness has dropped by around 85 percent.

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