Mayor's Downtown Homelessness Taskforce
In 2017, Mayor Curry launched the Downtown Homelessness Taskforce to align the collective efforts of the public, private and philanthropic sectors focused on ending homelessness in our community. The Taskforce has teamed with local and regional partners for a more collaborative effort to find more permanent housing solutions and increase services for people experiencing homelessness. As a part of the Taskforce, the Mayor secured private funding from the United Arab Emirates to launch two mobile medical and service buses that will serve as multi-service mobile clinics for homeless individuals in surrounding neighborhoods.
As an outcome of the Mayor’s Downtown Homeless Taskforce, the Urban Rest Stop (URS) was developed to (1) increase service points to people experiencing homelessness during the day, and (2) increase the capacity of services for the homeless population. Here, they provide numerous services and resources to people experiencing homelessness. Because of the success of the initiative, the Mayor included additional investment of funds in his budget to expand the program from 5 days to 7 days a week. By being open 7 days a week, this provides lots of opportunities for increased access to services for our homeless citizens.
In 2019, the City of Jacksonville hosted an Affordable Housing Strategy workshop with multiple private, non-profit affordable housing developers, advocates and the Florida Housing Coalition to identify solutions to address the shortage of affordable housing. An outcome of the workshop was the consensus that Jacksonville needed a Community Land Trust to develop and preserve affordable housing for the citizens of Jacksonville. In partnership with the Jessie Ball duPont Fund and the Florida Housing Coalition, the City of Jacksonville is currently working to develop a Community Land Trust, a key investment to reducing and preventing homelessness.
COVID-19 Shelter Taskforce:
In response to COVID-19, Strategic Partnerships activated members of the Mayor’s Downtown Homelessness Taskforce to launch the Shelter COVID-19 Taskforce. The Taskforce convened regular conference calls to discuss a proactive plan for homeless shelters in response to COVID-19. The Shelter Taskforce designed and implemented the COVID-19 response model for shelters and then secured approval and coordination from hospital representatives. This protocol is structured to be used in response to future viral crises and can be replicated in any community. The protocol has been shared nationally on COVID-19 crisis response calls and webinars as well as on the #1 Health Podcast on Apple, Epidemic. Click here to view the COVID-19 Shelter Protocol and additional resources.
Through a partnership with the national nonprofit Community Solutions, Jacksonville was chosen by Quest Diagnostics as one of two cities in the country to test people experiencing homelessness. Sulzbacher coordinated with UF Health to administer the tests at every shelter. 100% of these individuals tested negative for COVID-19. Private hotel rooms and meals are being provided for homeless individuals who are: experiencing symptoms, tested positive, the most medically vulnerable, and patients who have been discharged by a hospital and who are positive. In June 2020, Changing Homelessness and the Mayor's Taskforce on Homelessness won the Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida's 2020 Local Focus. Lasting Impact.™ Collective Power award for their collaborative efforts to screen nearly 700 homeless Jacksonville residents for COVID-19. Click here to learn more about the award.
Mayor’s Downtown Homelessness Taskforce - Founding Organizations: