County seeks suggestions on new center
Published: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 3:18 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 at 3:18 p.m.
With the city of Gainesville’s long-planned one-stop homeless center in the works, residents are invited to fill out an online survey to explain what kinds of community services they would like to see offered there.
The city of Gainesville plans to buy and convert the Gainesville Correctional Institution into the Gainesville Community Innovation (GCI) one-stop homeless center, but the facility won’t offer resources for the homeless community alone.
“We don’t want to restrict the services for just one population,” said Theresa Lowe, director of the city of Gainesville/Alachua County Office on Homelessness. “We want this to be something for all of Gainesville.”
The office is conducting an online Alachua County Community Needs Survey, which is available at www.surveymonkey.com/s/AlachuaNeedsSurvey.
The survey is pretty broad, Lowe said, and asks about social services resources people would like as well as recreational activities and other potential offerings. The office has said it wants as many people as possible, from all areas of the county and many kinds of personal backgrounds, to complete the survey.
It will be open to users until 8 a.m. Monday, she said.
When the center opens, setting up the homeless services will be the top priority. Then, the office will focus on adding extra community services. Many services that are important for homeless people, such as resume assistance, are helpful for non-homeless residents as well, she said.
Lowe said she hopes to provide a variety of community resources at GCI, possibly including activities for senior citizens, pickup baseball games and meeting space for organizations such as the Girl Scouts.
She emphasized the importance of providing community services as well as resources for homeless residents in order to fight homelessness throughout the county.
“Our thought is that if we ever want to end homelessness, we first have to work to prevent [it],” she said.
The Office on Homelessness will be hosting visioning meetings in the future to gather more local input on the kinds of services it should consider providing, Lowe said.
The survey is just the first step in this conversation.
Morgan Watkins is a Gainesville Sun staff writer.