On Feb. 14, Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry and members of the Jacksonville City Council participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the Grand Opening of the Urban Rest Stop, a joint venture of Sulzbacher Center, which is Jacksonville’s homeless shelter, and the Mental Health Resource Center (MHRC). Funded in part by the City of Jacksonville, the Urban Rest Stop will be a place where people experiencing homelessness can go during the day to receive meals and healthcare and be connected to resources including showers, mailboxes, case managers and jobs.
While both Sulzbacher and Mental Health Resource Center (through their LINK and QUEST programs) have been providing services in Jacksonville for decades and have worked together closely to coordinate the care of their shared clientele, Urban Rest Stop represents the first co-location of services, maximizing the use of each agencies’ resources.
Both Sulzbacher and MHRC participated in Mayor Lenny Curry’s Downtown Homelessness Task Force. This co-location is in response to two of the Task Forces’ priorities: (1) to increase service points to people experiencing homelessness during the day and (2) to increase the capacity of services for this population. Citizens will have access to the Urban Rest Stop, Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“The City of Jacksonville is committed to working with our partners at Sulzbacher and Mental Health Resource Center on efforts to end homelessness in our community,” said Mayor Lenny Curry. “This innovative idea will have a profound impact on the lives of our community’s most vulnerable citizens.
Funding was provided through the City of Jacksonville to rehabilitate an existing, vacant area of Sulzbacher and to fund a Jacksonville Sheriff’s Officer. “While we may never end homelessness, it is imperative that we do everything we can to give all residents of Jacksonville the dignity, hope and path to prosperity that they deserve. The Urban Rest Stop does just that,” Council President Aaron Bowman said.
Sulzbacher and Mental Health Resource Center worked with other important stakeholders such as ICARE (Interfaith Coalition for Action, Reconciliation & Empowerment) to create this initiative. In addition to the services of the two co-located agencies, Goodwill Job Junction services are also available on site, and an off-duty police officer will be present during the hours that the Urban Rest Stop is open.
“MHRC is excited to partner with Sulzbacher to expand services to persons experiencing homelessness in our city. Thanks to funding from the City of Jacksonville, and generous private donations, MHRC and Sulzbacher will be able to provide persons who are homeless with a place where they can access services, take a shower, enjoy a meal and socialize,” said Robert Sommers, Ph.D., president and CEO of MHRC.
“Feeling that you are unwelcome is a terrible feeling and one that, unfortunately, people experiencing homelessness are subjected to on a daily basis,” said Cindy Funkhouser, M.S.W., president and CEO of Sulzbacher. “To have a welcoming place to be where there are services, resources, caring people and an opportunity to rest will be a blessing to the hundreds of folks on the streets of downtown.”