Volusia moves forward with providing funds, but there are complaints about how those who need it will get there.
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
The Volusia County Council voted last week to have County Attorney Dan Eckert draw up a contract to help fund the construction and operation costs for a proposed homeless shelter in Daytona Beach.
The vote passed by a 4-3 margin with Commissioners Ed Kelley, Joyce Cusack, Heather Post and Billie Wheeler in favor of it.
The proposed First Step Shelter in Daytona Beach is a 100-bed structure to be located on city-owned property on Red John Drive, just off US Highway 92 near Interstate 95 and near the Volusia County Branch Jail.
Homeless advocates welcome a shelter, but some don’t like the location, which would be about 10 miles from downtown Daytona.
“This is a positive first step. It’s a horrible location. Would you like to be taken 10 miles out of town to a concentration camp-like setting? It’s ridiculous. We don’t need a shelter 10 miles away from town; we need one closer,” said homeless advocate Mike Pastore.
Despite not liking the site, Pastore said he is willing to support some type of shelter.
“One advocate told me before he left the area that any shelter is better than no shelter. So, for me to want my homeless brothers and sisters to have a bed to sleep in, food to eat and shelter, then I must stand down and support it in some way,” Pastore explained.
Away from jobs
Bill Simmons sleeps on a different friend’s couch every night.
“The location is not good. It is far away from everything. Look around here. They have all these rehab centers for people but no homeless shelter. There are plenty of buildings that could be used,” he told the Daytona Times.
“The shelter will be a step away from the jail. Who wants to be there? I’d rather be over here. I’m a musician. Musician gigs are over here,” he stated.
Others are concerned about transportation.
Sandy Cook said, “We need one. It will be hard for us to get over here to the feedings, clothes and showers. We also need transportation over this way for job search and to day labor for work. I heard they might provide transportation, which may be the biggest need. I’ve taken Bus No. 60 between here and DeLand plenty of times. It’s nothing out there but woods.”
The homeless also are skeptical that anything will get done.
Rob Osorio stated, “I don’t think it will ever open. They’ve got the money but don’t want to spend it. People would rather be closer to this way. I’m waiting on Social Security. Rent is too high. You can’t afford $800 month rent on minimum wage jobs.
“Everything and every place that they get for us someone complains and it’s taken away. The cops harass us. People try to feed us but get fined $300 to $400. I’ve never been arrested until two weeks ago. I’ve been here for four years. The cop was chewing and spitting tobacco. He arrested me for throwing a cigarette butt on the ground,’’ Osorio complained.
What it’ll cost
The Volusia County Council already has already pledged up to $4 million in support for homeless shelters. The Daytona Beach Commission has pledged $400,000 per year to run and operate the shelter.
The First Step shelter is estimated at $2 million for construction with about $1 million per year to operate plus an additional $1 million per year for in kind services.
The county has pledged $1.2 million for construction and capital costs as long as the City of DeLand can make arrangements for the first five years of operational costs to be funded by West Volusia cities, churches and businesses.
The city of DeLand and Deltona have both pledged $50,000 a year for the project. Lake Helen has pledged $1,500; Debary $20,000, and Orange City $15,000.