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JAX Chamber Downtown and Arlington councils host public policy forum examining solutions for homelessness

The JAX Chamber’s Downtown and Arlington councils hosted a public policy forum examining solutions for homelessness. More than 80 local business leaders attended the forum.

Moderated by Dawn Gilman of the Emergency Services & Homeless Coalition of Jacksonville, the panelists included Elaine Spencer, the City of Jacksonville housing director and with the Mayor’s Homeless Task Force, Terry Lorince of Downtown Vision, Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford and Cindy Funkhouser of the Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless.

While homelessness is a problem in every community, Downtown is considered one of the hot spots in the Jacksonville area where the most vulnerable people are found living on the streets. Homelessness is a problem in downtown communities across the nation because they are centrally located, have a number of services available, are more densely populated and allow for greater walkability.

The panelists at the forum agree reducing the number of homeless individuals living on the streets of Downtown will help save lives and maximize the use of community resources. Research shows that the life expectancy of a homeless person significantly decreases the longer they are on the streets. Finding long-term solutions for the homeless reduces the costs associated with public safety and health care. The panelists and business leaders alike also believe reducing the homeless population will attract more people to businesses, residences and events in the urban core.

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