BROOKSVILLE — At a homeless shelter, no-vacancy nights usually means turning away people who are desperate and out of options.
Jericho Road Ministries opened its doors to 328 people from January through October, but more than twice as many needy people had to be turned away.
"We had 854 people that we could not shelter because we didn't have room or we didn't have a program suited for them," chaplain Bruce W. Gimbel said.
In such cases, Jericho refers people to other shelters, sometimes in other counties.
But soon, there will be more room here to help the needy.
Jericho Road Ministries has won a $94,000 Emergency Shelter Grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to increase its local capacity. The money can be used for operating costs, support services and renovations of shelter facilities.
"We've not received (Emergency Shelter Grant) dollars in Hernando County ever before that I'm aware of, and that makes it even more exciting," said Barbara Wheeler, executive director for the Mid Florida Homeless Coalition.
Jericho Road Ministries operates two shelters in Brooksville, which provide 14 beds for men and six for women. The non-profit also has a duplex for families in need of emergency shelter, and two transitional houses, which provide support for individuals who have completed an addiction program and are re-establishing themselves within the community.
The ministry is financed through a variety of donations. About one-third comes from individuals or businesses, one-third from community churches and the remaining third from the profits of the organization's three thrift stores, said Gimbel.
The federal grants are awarded through the states. Florida shelters in 24 counties won a total of more than $3 million. In all, the awards support 1,400 beds and add 222 beds across the state. Other grant recipients include the Homeless Emergency Project in Pinellas County ($150,000) and the Citrus County Abuse Shelter Association ($32,166).
Shary Lyssy Marshall can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.