Since the Government Street Presbyterian Church stopped serving breakfast to the homeless as part of its Coffee Club ministry, complaints about vagrants and homeless people downtown have decreased, but the need has only shifted to other areas and not gone away.
In a letter to congregants, the Government Street Presbyterian Church said the ministry was still being researched, and it is unclear whether it will be restarted at this time.
In the letter, members of the “Coffee Club task force” said they researched the history of the ministry, solicited input from members, met with nonprofits and studied nationwide faith-based programs.
The letter also said the group kept in mind the safety of volunteers working with the ministry, as well as the church’s assets, resources and the desire to be a good community partner.
Meanwhile the homeless have not disappeared, but have merely shifted to other areas of the city, Waterfront Mission spokeswoman Angie Ishee said. In addition to the church ending its breakfast ministry, the mission doesn’t have a walk-up lunch downtown anymore.
Funds from 15 Place provided money for the walk-up lunch at the mission, Ishee said, but since 15 Place ended its ancillary services the funding was pulled.
Waterfront Mission only provides meals to guests in its overnight shelter, or to men in one of two programs dealing with addiction and workforce training, Ishee said.
The overnight shelter is available for $10 per night to individuals who can afford it, Ishee said. There is no limit to the number of stays for someone who pays for the overnight shelter. The mission also has a respite dorm for those who are injured, she said. Homeless individuals who do not have an income of any kind, Ishee said, are referred to Housing First.
Ishee said there aren’t as many walk-ups downtown as there used to be, but the burden has shifted to other parts of the city.
The mission has seven thrift stores that help fund the charity, Ishee said. Only one of those — at 2365 N. McKenzie St. in Foley — is in Alabama. Even with the thrift stores and private donations, Alabama proceeds result in an approximate $300,000 loss each year for the Mobile shelter, Ishee said.
The city, Ishee said, has helped secure grant funding for the mission. Councilman Levon Manzie said the issue will continue as the downtown area continues to be redeveloped, noting money is not always the answer to the problem. Last year, Manzie requested the city give Housing First $100,000 to help it continue the ancillary services at 15 Place, but his proposal was not seconded for a vote.
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