Jacksonville non-profit closing its doors after 105 years

Ken Amaro is on your side. 10/19/2016

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Since 1911, when the YWCA/Community Connections first opened its doors, the mission has always been about  helping families, women and children.

"It is cheaper to stay here, so it allows us to save some money," said Juliana Garoutte.

Garoutte is one of the families living in its transitional housing program. She rents a room for $300 a month. As of Wednesday, she's trying to determine her next move.

"Got to get it together and move on," she said.

Tuesday, residents and staff were told the 105-year-old non profit is closing its doors.

"I'm not surprised," said Garoutte. "Homelessness and transition is not really a priority here in this community."

Linda Lanier, a consultant to the non-profit was brought on to help guide the non-profit in a future direction. She said after they evaluated the options the decision to close was made and it was painful.

"Many were weeping around the table at that board meeting," said Lanier. "Yes, it was a heartbreaking decision. This is 105 years of service."

Lanier said the over riding decision was a dramatic change in the paradigm of how to best serve the homeless.

Four years ago there was a shift in federal policy regarding transitional housing and that eventually affected how much HUD dollars Community Connections received.

She said while the closing is bad news, the good news is those in need will be able to get into long term housing sooner.

"What we found is the best way to care for a person who is homeless or almost homeless is to get them into stable housing and jump over transitional housing," she said.

Lanier said the closing of Community Connections will affect 80 residents and about 70 staffers, some of them part time workers.

"The housing staff is working with each person to find the right place for them so they may move into an apartment," said Lanier.

Garoutte who rides her bicycle back and forth from work to her transitional housing for a year is hoping for a clean start to what ever lies ahead.

"When you have to choose between a place to stay and a car and you can't have both," said Garoutte, "it is kind of hard."

(© 2016 WTLV)


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