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First big homeless resource event since The Way’s closing set for Sept. 23
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Canopies shelter various booths Thursday, May 6, 2021, during a homeless resource event at The Way Ministries. The event featured food, clothing and health screenings along with music and other useful resources for those in need. - photo by Scott Rogers

An event scheduled Thursday, Sept. 23, to help the homeless population of Gainesville will be the first big gathering since the closure of The Way day center.

Ninth District Opportunity housing/program planner Michael Fisher said the event will have dozens of organizations together to help the homeless, including food, health and wellness checks, Medicaid/Medicare, food stamps, disability and more.

A similar resource event was held in May in the former parking lot of The Way day center on Bradford Street. But The Way’s operator, Jerry Deyton, was unable to find a new location for the day center after the building was sold to new owners wishing to renovate.

“This had to be a community effort because the neighborhood has lost The Way, not just the services they provide or the heart that Jerry provides but the location,” Fisher said. “It’s just a place where people that just need a place to sit for a minute where they’re not going to be urged to move along.”

Homeless services event

When: 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23

Where: Parking lot of Mount Calvary Church of God and the Islamic Center of Gainesville, 682-694 E.E. Butler Parkway, Gainesville

As they have built greater relationships with local law enforcement, Fisher said members of the Gainesville Police Department have been invited to attend.

Fisher said Untouchable Hair Studio will provide haircuts, and a mobile shower truck should be operational in time for the event.

Fisher and his collaborators have been going out to homeless camps and hotels with flyers — both in English and Spanish — to let people know about the event

“The truth is, right now the services are just really getting harder and harder to come by,” Fisher said. “Affordable housing is just about nonexistent in this community.”

While they are “swamped getting people into hotels,” Fisher said there aren’t many places for them to go after that.

“Right now, the best thing we can do is try to make a lot of our homeless less miserable, and so I think that’s going to be the driving factor of how we do the homeless work for a period until we can have a chance to sit down with the city and the county to talk about joint solutions,” Fisher said.

Regional events