The following article was published in the August Newsletter for Housing Not Handcuffs.
Successful Transition of Homeless Encampment to Permanent Housing in Gainesville
In Gainesville, Florida, a homeless encampment known as Dignity Village, in which experiencing homelessness resided, was approximately 350 people closed through provision of housing. Dignity Village was located near GRACE, the largest homeless services center and shelter in the city. When the city made it clear they wanted the camp closed, advocates from GRACE proposed a phased plan to the City of Gainesville so residents could obtain permanent housing.
Advocates worked with residents of Dignity Village to address their needs to create interim support systems that would lead to permanent housing.
A complete roster of Dignity Village residents was taken. They created a temporary campground for Dignity Village residents on the GRACE campus while permanent housing options were being identified. Residents were given a private tent, and an unarmed security guard restricted access to only Dignity Village residents. GRACE hired a case manager whose sole job was to find permanent housing for Dignity Village residents, who were welcome to utilize GRACE services in the meantime.
As of now, Dignity Village has officially closed. 82 residents have transitioned to permanent housing. Approximately 60 residents are residing in the temporary campground and are being worked with so that permanent housing can be identified. The remaining Dignity Village residents stopped seeking services from GRACE or have otherwise left town. During this process, there were no arrests of Dignity Village residents nor positive cases of COVID-19. Here, advocates and residents created a holistic plan that utilized continuums of care with the sole goal of finding permanent housing.