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After Haven Of Rest Closing, Advocates For Homeless Say Long Term Solutions Are Needed

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Regan McCarthy
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Over the weekend, the Haven of Rest, a homeless shelter for men, closed its doors after about 30 years of service in the community. The sudden move left community members and advocates scrambling for a solution to keep the 50 or so emergency shelter residents from being turned out on the street. So, Big Bend Homeless Coalition’s Hope Community has opened its doors inviting the Haven’s residents to stay in its cafeteria, but officials say it’s not a solution that can last very long.

A recent study shows about 1,000 Tallahassee citizens are homeless. And the Big Bend Homeless Coalition’s Executive Director, Susan Pourciau said that growing number combined with events like the sudden closing of one of the city’s shelters means it’s time to start looking for new solutions to homelessness the community.

“This again raises to our communities consciousness that this is an issue we need to deal with as a whole and I think the lesson is not to wait for a crisis to happen, but have a really thoughtful strategic plan for moving forward. We can work with crisis like this because we work so well together, but it would be ideal if we didn’t have a crisis," Pourciau said.

Pourciau said more transitional housing is needed to reduce the number of people who are homeless as well as the length of time someone is homeless.

Right now, Pourciau said about two dozen men from the Haven of Rest are staying on cots in the Hope Community’s cafeteria. The facility’s staff is working to make their new guests comfortable, and even hosted a movie night for the men. But Pourciau said hosting the men is also putting a stain on the facility—particularly when it comes to money. 

“We’re acting on faith right now. We don’t have a

"I think the lesson is not to wait for a crisis to happen, but to have a really thoughtful strategic plan for moving forward."

money plan. We’re responding to a crisis. We are having to double the number of staff people who are working overnight and we also have additional costs around food and laundry and that kind of people and we’re seeking help from the community to provide that temporary shelter," Pourciau said.

Pourciau said advocates for the city’s homeless are continuing to look for longer term plans. But she expects the Haven of Rest residents will be staying at the Hope Community for the next few weeks or so. So far, she said, everything is going well.

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Officials say monetary donations to help house and support the homeless are most needed and can be directed to a number of organizations throughout the community. Other donations, such as gently used linens are also welcome.

 Follow Regan McCarthy on twitter @Regan_McCarthy