Old prison May Soon be a Homeless Center
This abandoned building used to be home to inmates.
After closing it's doors in late March it's now an empty and quiet piece of property, but some hope that it can be turned into a homeless center.
"The greatest thing that's happen to the homeless since they have been homeless," said Pat Fitzpatrick.
Homeless advocate Fitzpatrick isn't the only person who thinks it's a great idea.
"People have been there. A friend of mine works there. They have beds, rooms, kitchens, bathrooms it's perfect," said Arupa Freeman.
A possible alternative to the long- standing plans to build a new homeless center on Northwest 53rd avenue, tied up with legal and permitting challenges.
The state declared the property surplus and now city commissioners are looking into purchasing what used to be the Gainesville Correctional Institution.
If the city decides to buy the property, they will get the prison buildings as well as 1200 acres of woods that are near the prison.
During Thursdays meeting, commissioners discussed possible services offered there such as job training, health care services, a community theater and more.
"Making sure that folks that don't have the skills or have issues that they are facing can get into the job market, to get into the family strengthening market, to build a business that they get those," said Randy Wells.
City commissioner Wells supports the idea and described it as going "from prison to pride."
Jack Donovan with the Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry said about 3,000 people in Alachua County are homeless.
"What I am hopeful for is that it could be turned into a very large community resource. Kind of an enrichment center for everybody. Most especially to advance the economic development in East Gainesville," said Donovan.
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