Daytona Beach area homeless shelter for veterans to move to new site
DAYTONA BEACH — A plan to create a new haven for homeless veterans cleared a crucial hurdle this week.
At their Tuesday meeting, county council members approved a rezoning for a 2.35-acre property on Derbyshire Road, just north of the Daytona Beach city limits, which can now become the home of a 20-bed shelter for male and female veterans.
“I’m really happy to see this for veterans,” County Chairman Jeff Brower said.
The property at 962 Derbyshire Road has long been the home of a church, and it is still owned by the First United Methodist Church of Port Orange. But since 2012 it has been the home of the Derbyshire Place community centre.
The Confessional Community Center is a ministry of Port Orange Methodist Church. Ownership of the property will now be transferred via quitclaim to Halifax Urban Ministries, a long-standing local nonprofit that will operate the veterans’ shelter.
The community center will continue to operate on the Derbyshire Road site even after Halifax Urban Ministries purchases it, and plans are underway for shared ownership.
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“Some (community center) services may be moved,” County Director of Growth and Resource Management Clay Ervin told council members Tuesday.
Ervin noted that there will be mostly interior renovations to the community center building complex, and the community garden at the site will remain. New landscaping will be added to the west side of the property to provide more buffer for single-family homes behind the community center, he said.
New Chapter for Daytona Veterans Shelter
Halifax Urban Ministries already operates a shelter for homeless veterans in a property it rents in Daytona Beach. This shelter located one block west of Ridgewood Avenue will now be relocated to Derbyshire Road.
The Barracks of Hope veterans’ shelter has been in existence for three years, operating in the high-crime neighborhood of North Street.
“We were looking for an opportunity to move the program,” said Buck James, executive director of Halifax Urban Ministries. “It’s an opportunity to move into a neighborhood, so we’re thrilled about it.”
The opportunity to relocate the Barracks of Hope, a nonprofit that provides transitional housing to veterans for up to nine months, was sparked by a $1 million federal grant from COVID pandemic relief funds.
Halifax Urban Ministries will use the federal money plus an additional $1 million from the county government to move into its new home on Derbyshire Road.
The Veterans Administration provided the $1 million federal grant for the project, so the VA will have to approve the transitional housing plan. Like the current Barracks of Hope site, there will be 20 small apartments for veterans to stay in until they find permanent housing.
The AV received the COVID relief funding money, and the grant requires a commitment to creating a facility less likely to transmit germs, so the design will include things like new individual bathrooms for tenants. .
The Derbyshire Place buildings will also undergo some minor exterior upgrades and the landscaping will be revamped, James said.
He said an architect and an engineer are already involved in the project, but there is no timeline for construction yet.
“It’s a renovation, so it should be pretty quick,” James said.
Halifax Urban Ministries signed the grant agreement with the VA in October. It’s a 24-month deal that requires the project to be completed by October 2023, James said.
Halifax Urban Ministries has also renovated a former primary school off Derbyshire Road, which now houses the Hope Place homeless shelter for families. The new transitional housing for veterans will be only half a mile away.
Derbyshire Place Community Center remains in place
Miguel Rodriguez will continue as the executive director of Derbyshire Place following the addition of the new apartments for homeless veterans. And the community center will continue to offer its wide range of free programs and assistance every week from Monday to Saturday.
Derbyshire Place has a community garden, thrift shop, food pantry, hot meals people pick up drive-thru on Friday nights, tutoring programs and spiritual counseling for children, employment assistance, a support group for single mothers, computer classes, family movie nights and Suite.
“We plan to stay there and do the same things,” Rodriguez said.
The community center, located a few blocks south of LPGA Boulevard, is needed in the Derbyshire neighborhood. The community has an unemployment rate that hovers around 10%, a median household income below $30,000, and low levels of higher education.
Rodriguez said the old church buildings were ready for an overhaul anyway. The kitchen will be renovated and the common room will be transformed into apartments.
He doesn’t know where his office will be in the three-building complex and how his programs will be affected by the fact that up to 20 veterans are staying there. But he’s not worried.
“We will have to do some strategic planning,” he said, noting that veterans can benefit from his programs. “Things are still up in the air for planning and what the end product will be.”
With the 20-bed space used by the Barracks of Hope due to be vacant in the fall of 2023, the owner of the North Street complex in which the veterans shelter is located must now think of new ways to use the buildings.
For decades, the one-block section of North Street just west of Ridgewood Avenue served as the de facto homeless relief headquarters in Daytona Beach. Now, the Volusia-Flagler County Coalition for the Homeless is planning to turn its four connected North Street buildings into badly needed low-income housing and move most agencies and services into the structures. ageing.
“It would be a game-changer for the neighborhood,” said Jeff White, executive director of the Volusia-Flagler County Coalition for the Homeless.
In two or three years, this stretch of road riddled with crime, drugs and crushing poverty could turn into something that would help stabilize the neighborhood devastated by the almost constant presence of homeless people.
It could also become a place that helps struggling city residents who are in desperate need of affordable rental housing.
For now, this is only an idea, and it will take some time to determine the viability of transforming aging property in the urban core into affordable apartments.
You can reach Eileen at [email protected]