The Coalition for the Homeless is selling its women’s shelter building and relocating residents to permanent housing or its main campus.
The Women’s Residential & Counseling Center (WRCC) has been operating since 1996 in what was once a YWCA.
The move is part of the coalition’s desire to adapt to the changing national trend in moving the homeless to permanent housing.
“The focus of our community is getting people into housing first,” said John Hearn, president and CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. “The upkeep on the aging buildings has become prohibitive, and the recent shift in funding away from transitional housing programs, like the WRCC, has challenged us to rethink how to best serve our clients.”
The coalition has provided temporary housing, food, educational programs and job training since 1987. The coalition provides shelter for an average of 500 men, women and children every night.
The coalition’s board decided to sell the women’s shelter, which sits on 1.4 acres of prime real estate at the corner of Magnolia Avenue and East Colonial Drive in downtown Orlando. The property is assessed at more than $3 million.
Last year, a mold problem forced the closure of one of the shelter’s three buildings, and the number of women and children it could house dropped from about 130 to 55. The buildings range from 40 to 50 years old.
There are 47 people currently living in the women’s shelter, including 14 single women and nine families. The residents will be moved into a rapid-rehousing program that will find permanent homes or apartments for the women, most of which are victims of crime or domestic violence. Those that cannot be placed in permanent housing will be moved to the main campus on Central Boulevard, which has a Center for Women & Families, which will be reconfigured to provide more space.
The move to the main campus is expected to take 90 days. After the women’s shelter facility is sold, Hearn said the money will be placed in an endowment fund to provide services for women and families.