BY ANDREAS BUTLER
As the City of Daytona Beach struggles to assist its homeless population, the homeless themselves are pondering what will happen to them.
During a special meeting on Aug. 3, the city commission voted not to extend funding from 11 days to 30 days for the homeless living in the Royal Inn and Host Inn motels.
They were placed there after the Salvation Army’s Bridge Bed program ended on Aug. 1. The homeless had until Aug. 11 to find a new place to live.
“I’m still confused. Nobody tells us anything. Most of these people who work with us are just looking out for their jobs. The Bridge Bed program was one of the best programs that they had, said William Lindsay, 64, a homeless man who has been living in one of the motels.
The city originally allocated $20,000 to cover the bill while local corporations have contributed food.
“It just costs too much to continue handling this situation this way. We cannot sustain this each week. We’ve decided to use that money a better way,” said Zone 5 Commissioner Patrick Henry.
Seeking funding sources
The city wants faith-based organizations and non-profits to step in and take the lead in providing homeless services.
“We still have things on the table. We are still looking for funding sources. We are looking to partner with other non-profits, the county, other cities and other agencies,” Henry remarked.
The city is scheduled to have another meeting on the homeless issue on Aug. 17. Ideas also were to be discussed at an April 11 meeting of local elected officials in Volusia County.
Volusia County Councilman Joshua Wagner weighed in on the subject.
“It’s still in the city’s hands. The county will look at helping to fund such a project. DeLand is putting together a plan for a shelter. The county is looking to help fund up to $1 million for the construction of a shelter. DeLand will run it and operate it. I believe Daytona could still come up with something,’’ he stated.
Shelter, services needed
Even the homeless who aren’t housed in the motels are concerned.
A homeless woman who would only identify herself as Nay told the Daytona Times this week, “Everyone has their own story, but it’s the same issue. I am concerned. There is a dire need for shelter. I hope that these people get placed and have transportation. If they don’t have the right services to re-establish themselves, then they will be back in the streets.’’
Many of the homeless people believe that possible shelters are already in plain site.
“There are many abandoned buildings, especially some of these abandoned hotels and motels. It would be great if there was a centralized area for shelter, food, health care, job assistance, etc.,” commented a homeless woman named Laura, who wouldn’t give her last name.
Lindsay told the Times, “The city is just starting to realize that we exist. They could easily turn a vacant building into a shelter. The church next to Halifax Urban Ministries (HUM) on Bay Street is ideal. HUM already provides plenty of services right next door. The city don’t want too rezone that area to do that.”
City officials say that there still will be a cost to remodel any structure into a shelter.
“To take one of these old buildings would cost $50,000 to $100,000 just to start with. There are sites that have yet to be brought to our attention. Also, often when we come up with sites, the people in the neighborhood don’t want a homeless shelter there,” Henry added.
Some of the homeless people say that they just want to be treated humanely.
Lindsey explained, “People need to know that homeless people are a cross-section of society. The older population needs their paperwork and medication while youngsters need jobs. There are some that are just lazy. They don’t want to work and don’t know how to hustle. Look at a person making $700 per month with a rent of $600. You know what eventually happens? Also, a lot of HUD programs have too many restrictions.”
Trying to survive
While those in the motels are looking for permanent solutions, the homeless must come up with a plan.
Lindsay told the Daytona Times, “I just got lucky. I’m going to be OK. I finally got my right Social Security.”
Others aren’t as fortunate.
“I originally came to Daytona to care for loved ones. I’ve buried three of them in the last 10 years. I got into an accident and can no longer work my career field. I still seeking employment and trying to use the resources that are available. These resources often dry up quick. If you don’t have the resources, you have to be creative to survive,” Nay explained.
Added Laura, “I am a victim of identity theft and it led to all types of problems. I just need to find a job and a place to live. I must try every day. I also need to find a good attorney.’’