The Truth about the Bay Area Resource Center and Community Campus
As community questions arise, we are responding with answers. Our goal is complete transparency as we bring the Community together to make this project something we can ALL be proud to support.
Appropriate Facilities: The community campus will provide safe and appropriate facilities designed specifically for use in providing the services that homeless persons need, including treatment, training and supportive housing. Many such services are now provided in cramped quarters, often in older buildings, some with building code issues, in scattered site locations around the region.
Gated Site: The services will be provided in a well-maintained, 70 acre gated community that sets the campus apart from its immediate surroundings with a buffer of land, landscaping, a full fence and controlled access and egress. This will secure both the population on campus and the surrounding community. Perhaps some in our community fail to recognize that a homeless person’s chief concern is how to keep themselves and their few possessions safe and not become a victim of theft or battery.
One Entrance: Everyone entering the campus will enter through the Intake and Reception area where they will receive an identification badge. Participants will not only be identified, but will be immediately moved through the initial assessment process to primary care and an appropriate program. In this way, everyone on campus will be known and accounted for. No one will be wandering in and out at random. Currently providers only serve a portion of those who request services, leaving others to wander the area trying to figure out what to do, where to go next and how to get there.
Security Provided: Security staff will be on campus 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. This will prevent many problems from occurring and if problem activities do occur, they will be dealt with as they happen. There will be no wait while police officers are summoned to the site. Currently, providers do not have private security systems with staff on-site. Providers rely on city and county law enforcement to make themselves available and handle any problems that arise. This is a very costly alternative that places the burden on local government. It also ties up officers’ time and takes them away from their regular responsibilities.
- Location: The location selected is a large (70 acre) tract of land, in order to accommodate all the intended services, but also to insure an adequate buffer for the property. The group of volunteers working on site selection spent 15 months looking for the best possible location, considering proximity, size, and cost. The few available sites similar in size closer to the downtown area are much more expensive and can’t therefore be considered. So there were other sites seriously considered, but not pursued due to the factors listed above and, in some cases, the density of development already in place.
The Need for Transportation is limited: Homeless persons will only need to find their way to campus just one time to receive services. All services will be co-located on the community campus. There will be no need for frequent trips away from campus to access medical services, to participate in a job training program, or attend services at a worship center. Currently available services in scattered sites around the area cause a homeless person to constantly seek transportation. One homeless couple in their 50’s, recently interviewed on WMBB, stated that they had to walk about ten miles per day to access the basic services they needed.
- Vans Available: If transportation is needed for persons residing on the campus, vans will be available for that purpose. There will also be one van designated for outreach, to pick-up persons who are on the street in need of assistance and bring them to the campus. This van service does not currently exist in our community.
Campus always open: The campus will be “open” at all times. Homeless persons will find 24 hour services on-site, meaning that residential programs will be paired with education, skills training and vocational programs, so that persons will have a place to stay at night and participate in self-help activities during the day. The Resource Center and Community Campus system is not just a Day Center, nor just a Homeless Shelter. It is a full service campus that engages people in developing self-sufficiency and employment skills and keeps them sheltered and safe while they are preparing for their transition back into the community. It does not turn people out at the end of the day after they have participated in a program, nor in the morning after providing night shelter. As opposed to our current scattered site provider system, the campus offers an ongoing stable environment where residents can focus on gaining their own stability and the skills necessary to succeed independently in the community.
There is no service of this type in this area. The Bay Area Resource Center and Community Campus will be a national model if allowed to proceed and will bring accolades to this community.
Service providers: Providers will work together to offer comprehensive services for the poor and homeless people who come to the Resource Center for help. The service providers on-site will be churches, and nonprofit organizations, many of whom are faith-based. They are the organizations that now provide services to our community from their diverse locations. At this time, some of the service organizations operate in our city and county, some across this region of Florida and a few state-wide. Since they operate in scattered site locations, it makes it difficult for them to coordinate services and makes it difficult for persons in need to access services. When providers are located at the same site, they can be both more effective and more efficient.
Cost-effective system: When services are provided within one coordinated system, recipients are more likely to get what they need, when they need it. Importantly, coordination tends to eliminate unnecessary and expensive duplication of services. This system also finds ways to fill gaps in services, as providers recognize other providers who may have the service their client needs. Finally, when agencies co-locate on a campus and agree to operate under a centralized system, an economy of scale is established and the whole system is both strengthened and less expensive to offer as a whole.
- Governance: Each provider has its own organization and governance structure. All are governed by a Board of Directors who has legal and fiscal responsibility for its organization. Each Board of Directors will approve a Memorandum of Understanding that will identify the services it will provide and the services it will receive from the Bay Area Resource Center organization.
Bay Area Resource Center
Status: The Resource Center is incorporated as its own legal entity and nonprofit organization. It has no legal or organizational ties to the City of Panama City or any other nonprofit organization. It was created to manage the campus and centralized client services. It will direct participants’ intake, assessment, case management, and services placement. It will also be responsible for campus facilities management, security and grounds care.
Funds: The City of Panama City will not be providing operating funds now or in the future for the Bay Area Resource Center and Community Campus. The City will make a one-time expenditure to fund the land purchase for the campus. The project will then operate on federal grant funds, private foundation gifts, and individual donations.
- Construction: Once land has been obtained for this project, we will have the opportunity to collaborate with local and national service providers who have funding to construct and operate housing facilities. We have preliminary agreements with organizations such as Volunteers of America to build transitional housing for Veterans and to begin their project soon after the land becomes available.
Economic Engine: The Bay Area Resource Center and Community Campus will serve as a significant economic development engine, ultimately creating new construction and related activities and many new jobs in construction and also in ongoing operations.
Economic Development Corridor: The Bay Area Resource Center and Community Campus will stimulate commercial development and growth along the Highway 231 corridor.
- Economic Redevelopment: The Bay Area Resource Center and Community Campus will provide a place to safely administer programs and services on behalf of those in need. Once the campus is open and those in need are accommodated there, the way is clear for the City of Panama City to pursue economic redevelopment activities and develop a robust downtown and Marina district for all to enjoy. These redevelopment activities will provide immediate employment opportunities and, over time, a revenue source for the city.