Today I heard at Catholic Charities and confirmed with a call to Bethel Village that the women’s emergency shelter function ls closing at BV in 3 weeks or less. That will create quite a burden on other ministries in town and probably on law enforcement and Life Management services, too. I’m wondering if men’s emergency shelter is closing at PC Rescue Mission, too. Anyone know? As weather turns nasty and cold this will be especially difficult for some. And if the men’s shelter function is not closing, how does one justify keeping shelter for men and none for women and families??
It seems there are lots of changes around town. On another associated report AWARE, CARE’s women’s recovery program, is reportedly moving its women’s residence to an Alford area property and a new restart of CARE’s men’s residential program is reportedly going into the East Av property where the women’s program is now. Government grants for opiate addiction programs are stimulating some of this, according to some. Others have reported hearing similar accounts.
One thing I have observed and know is already happening is that when emergency shelter is not available, when desperate people have no safe place to go, they go to the ER or Life Management’s crisis unit and say they are going to commit suicide so that they can get Baker Acted and spend 72 hours in safe shelter. Baker Act rates will likely go up……and our mental health emergency services may be stressed with what is essentially a homeless situation needing immediate shelter services, even if just to get out of bad weather for a few days. Human trafficking risk may increase as women or others may be forced into situations of having to rely on people they may not know to take them in. Women and moms with children may have to stay in situations that are not safe. These changes point to increased risk of danger to vulnerable populations.
Some communities operate overnight shelter through rotating among churches using volunteers. Bay County piloted something like that in downtown Panama City last winter for a few nights when the weather was brutally cold, but it is nowhere near ready to handle what may be an emergency situation in the making.
Persons in need of shelter are not going away because services are shut down. They are simply going to use services that are far more costly and intended for other needs (like ER and mental health services), trespass on unsecured properties, crowd into housing that may not be safe or hygienic. etc.
When some of us at Bethel Village in 2013 realized the need for more women’s beds for recovery and shelter, we moved forward with relocating the BV facility from Transmitter to the 11th Street location. In spite of PCRM having no funds to secure the property, need, prayer, creativity, hard work, and opportunity forged a way . Now the women’s shelter that was moved off of the downtown PCRM campus to free up more space for men is being closed….Why? For how long? The rumor also is that the facility at 11th Street many people sacrificed to secure on behalf of women and moms with children will become the PCRM men’s program. Where will the women’s program be? Are the plans being publicly disclosed to donors and community stakeholders?