New Shelter Funding Source Sought

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It's just a blip, not a problem.

Tallahassee City Commissioner Gil Ziffer made that comment about a funding source change for the new homeless shelter.

Like Leon County government and the United Way of the Big Bend, the city of Tallahassee has pledged $500,000 to help build the shelter.

However, the city's federal dollars pledged to the project had both labor and timing issues.

As a result, city staffers are now looking for a new funding source.

"I'm confident that there's support on the city commission to follow wherever staff management leads us on where these funds are and hopefully we'll have this resolved in a very short period of time," said Ziffer.

The project is currently under construction.

The new shelter is part of a comprehensive service center.

Construction is expected to be done by early next year

A projected completion date for Tallahassee's new comprehensive homeless shelter has been pushed back.

A crew was working under the bright sunshine on the new comprehensive homeless shelter off Pensacola Street.

Unfortunately, those types of days have been fewer than expected in recent weeks just when crews were working on the soil and are now focusing on stormwater management.

"We've been set back a bit by all the inclement weather that we've had, the phenomenal amount of rain," said Project Manager Chuck White.

The original hope was to open the shelter before the end of the year in late December or early January.

Now the target date for completion is February 6th.

"We're trying to see if we can hasten that and get us back to 2014," White said.

Project managers also made three separate requests for money from state lawmakers.

Most notably, they'd asked for $2-million to help with an estimated $1.2 to $1.3 million annual budget to run the facility once its built.

It will not only house and feed the homeless, it will offer medical, job and other services.

State Senator Bill Galvano was hoping to get a good chunk of that money, but it wound up being $100,000.

"What they're doing there is a successful model, I've seen it in my own area," said Galvano.

"Now it's in the budget, so now we have to show that it works," said State Representative Alan Williams.

"We're pleased to have that on our shoulders, we do think we have a unique approach and it's working," White said.

Both White and lawmakers say having the project in the state budget means it's more likely to get additional funding in the coming years.

Managers of Tallahassee's new homeless shelter hoping for a slice of the state budget may be only getting a sliver.

Construction costs for the new Tallahassee facility are already covered.

Managers are hoping state government could help with operating expenses.

With great fanfare, a groundbreaking ceremony was held in February to mark the beginning of construction on the new state of the art shelter.

The plan is for the 36,000 foot facility to house all kinds of services to help homeless people.

The total construction cost is expected to be up to $5-million.

Once it's built, to help operate the facility, leaders asked state government for $2-million.

"The good news is there is a line item in the Senate Budget," said State Senator Bill Galvano. "The challenging news is that it's $100,000 going into conference," he said.

Galvano, a Republican from Bradenton, is leading the effort to get state money.

The shelter is also slated to get $100,000 in the House budget.

But Galvano says during negotiations, he plans to push for more funding.

"I'm not sure the timing requires that $2-million in one budget cycle," he said. "I'd like to get them more than the $100,000," Galvano said.

"Clearly any funding we get from the state to help with our homeless population is good for north Florida," said Tallahassee Commissioner Gil Ziffer.

On Thursday, the Community Redevelopment Agency gave the shelter and the Renaissance Center extension on their leases in their current Frenchtown locations until June, 2015.

The new shelter is expected to open by the beginning of next year with or without state money.

"The construction of the new facility got started a little later than we wanted to and needed to give them a little extension of where they are," said Ziffer.

It's expected both the shelter and Renaissance Center will be able to
move to the new facility long before that lease extension runs out.

Shelter Construction Manager Chuck White says he's very happy there's a line item at all in the state budget for the new facility.

Action by the legislature's conference committee on the shelter line item is pending.

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