Gainesville officials plan to expand budget for homeless

Gainesville Officials plan to expand budget for homeless

Gainesville officials voted to increase the homeless operations budget by $100,000. They're hoping the County Commission will match that, for a total of $200,000.

Mayor Lauren Poe says the funding should last until September of next year.

"Grace Marketplace said that they cannot continue performing the same level of service for the money we budgeted for them. They asked for substantially more and it was just too much for either commission to agree to..but we are meeting them half way there," Poe says.

The City and County Commission plan to have a joint meeting on December 11th to discuss several options for the homeless community in Gainesville.

Mayor Poe says one of those options is rapid rehousing. He says someone would stay in a place like Grace Marketplace for no more than 2 weeks and then move into a group home or an apartment shortly after.

Another idea tossed around was closing Dignity Village or "Tent City" permanently but Commissioner Poe says that will create more problems.

"It would really cause all of those people to disperse around town in unsafe and unsanitary conditions...So that is part of this follow up discussion we're going to have. We understand grace marketplace is not an ideal situation but we have to have an idea in place before we shut it down," Poe says.

He says compared to other years, there's been a drop in the homeless rate in Alachua County, but he says it's still a problem that needs to be addressed.

"It's working and it's working quite well. But the need is great out there and we need to continue focusing on every person that needs it," Poe says.

The budget will be finalized after the meeting in December. Poe says he hopes the compromise can help make a difference.

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