For many in Jacksonville, the city’s homeless population is a sore subject.
Homelessness has been on the decline in Jax for a decade, but there are still over 1,600 homeless Jaxsons out there. And while Jax has far less homeless residents than most cities of its size, the strong concentration of resources in one area of the city – the urban core, specifically – brings most of those residents to that area and creates the impression of a downtown homelessness epidemic. Some feel sympathy for those affected, some feel frustration or fear in relation to them, but everyone can agree that ending homeless in Jacksonville is a strong priority.
If you’re feeling compelled to do something about the city’s homeless population – whatever your motivation may be – we’ve put together a few tips for how we can all do something to help our neighbors in need.
Another way you can help the city’s homeless population is by advocating for laws and policies that help the homeless – or that, at the very least, don’t actively hurt them.
Sometimes short-sighted actions by the city can cause major issues for homeless Jaxsons. For example, chasing them out of Hemming Park and Main Street Park with frequent renovation and maintenance projects may seem like a good way to clear key public squares of vagrancy, but all it does in reality is force them to set up camp in other, arguably more dangerous or inconvenient spaces.
The best ways to help as an advocate are to push for affordable housing projects and funding for homeless organizations and programs, while also pushing back against cynical half-measures proposed by local politicians.