City, county to look at more funding for cold-weather shelter program


A weed is covered in frost beside U.S. 441 near Micanopy the morning of Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2010.

Joe Byrnes/ Staff
Published: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 5:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 11, 2011 at 9:33 p.m.

In upcoming weeks, the Gainesville City Commission and the Alachua County Commission will both consider putting more money into the cold-night shelter program for the homeless as this winter's spate of cold nights is draining the funds already provided to two nonprofit agencies.

Combined, the St. Francis House and the Alachua County Housing Authority receive $50,000 annually through the program to shelter the homeless, with the county and city each contributing $25,000. Tuesday, Gail Monahan, executive director of the Housing Authority, said her organization had approximately $600 remaining to temporarily place homeless individuals in area motels and hotels.

Monahan said the Housing Authority used the funds to provide shelter to 84 people, with some staying up to 10 nights. She said that total included 20 children.

St. Francis House Director Kent Vann said that charity organization had not yet submitted an invoice for January but had approximately $8,000 remaining, which should last about two more weeks. Vann said the funding from the county and city has allowed the St. Francis House shelter to house and feed up to 60 additional people a day -- 1,645 total -- since November.

The cold-night program is designed to provide funds to shelter the homeless when the temperature drops below 45 degrees. Vann said the shelter program has been activated 44 days so far since November, compared to 60 days last winter.

Assistant Gainesville City Manager Fred Murry told county commissioners that the city was looking to put an additional $15,000 to $30,000 into the program. A vote on the funding is scheduled for the Jan. 20 City Commission meeting, Murry said.

It was not yet clear when a County Commission vote would be scheduled.

County Commissioner Paula DeLaney also used Tuesday's televised meeting to solicit charitable donations for the program.

"This is money that would go directly to human services -- helping people in the next 60 days," she said.

Contact Christopher Curry at 374-5088 or chris.curry@gvillesun.com.

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