Homeless battle chilly temperatures while local leaders deal with a possible holdup relating to a safe zone.
BY ANDREAS BUTLER
The past seven weeks have been rough for a homeless man and woman who would only identify themselves as Danny and Billie. They braved the cold weather and slept on sidewalks the past few nights while temperatures dipped into the 40s in Daytona.
“We’ve been freezing out here. They don’t even take into consideration the wind chill. I only know of the cold weather shelter being open one night. I missed it. We slept on the sidewalk last night,” Billie, the woman, told the Daytona Times on Wednesday.
Danny responded, “We slept out on the sidewalk last night. “We’re basically sleeping anywhere that we can out here on the streets.”
They have been homeless since just before Thanksgiving.
“We were working and lost our jobs. One thing led to another. We lost our place we were living at. We had a nice spot to sleep at first, but we got ran out of there,” Danny stated. “The cops said that it was private property and we can’t be there.’’
The First Step Shelter, at 3889 W. International Speedway Blvd., opened on Dec. 16. A safe zone was intended to be a temporary holding area for homeless.
If there was a safe zone available, Danny and Billie would be amenable to going there.
“I’d go to a safe zone across from the shelter. It’s just a matter of getting there,” Billie noted.
Reports of Daytona Beach City Manager Jim Chisholm holding off plans to move forward with a proposed safe zone across the street from the new First Step Shelter surfaced in local media reports on Tuesday. It was reported that Chisholm notified the First Step Shelter board via email.
The move has upset some local government leaders whose municipalities have supported the First Step Shelter.
Working on it
“I don’t like what previous media reports have indicated. I am opposed to the city paying for the safe zone. Also, the First Step Shelter board realizes that there is responsibility,” commented Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry, who is president of the First Step Shelter, Inc.
“Basically, after seeing the designs from the architect and costs, the city manager asked us to look at ways of cutting costs. It’s just a matter of looking at the costs,” First Step Shelter Executive Director Victoria Fahlberg told the Times Wednesday night via email.
Tried to get in
Meanwhile, the homeless say they are aware of the needs for a safe zone.
“We sleep wherever we can. We are often scared to sleep sometimes for fear of the cops coming. There is nowhere to sleep during the day. The cops have cracked down. Many areas you used to can sleep you can’t anymore. It’s hard at night too,” said Danny.
The homeless say they have tried to get admitted into the shelter.
Danny emphasized, “Billie and I have both went out and tried to get into the shelter. It’s a lot of run-around. I’d rather be in the shelter getting things done than being on the street.”
Fahlberg explained the process.
“If anyone had a hard time getting in, I would want to know about it. I don’t think the process is hard. It is a process. There are requirements. If a person goes to a religious facility, social service agency or law enforcement, they should be fine. They would get an interview. The thing that normally disqualifies a person is sex offenses and outstanding warrants,” Fahlberg added.