ery few are helping with a very serious homeless problem. Most available programs treat the homeless like criminals, and were not allowing them to get back on their feet.Homeless Veterans, men, women, and children are now helping themselves with few resources. Please help.
The entire story of the Mission in Citrus Homeless Shelters is a miracle in itself. Their founder became homeless himself after losing millions due to illness, and divorce. He is a survivor of a Class A thoracic aorta aneurysm, a lung operation and many more illnesses. Many in the United States are now finding that anyone can become homeless, and are just a few paychecks from being homeless themselves. The face of homelessness changes so fast. They are now taking in 70% lone mothers with children. Out of one hundred current residents. Seventeen are children under eighteen. This would have never been acceptable in the 70’s and 80’s. Where is America heading? We help many other countries, but who is helping America?
The Founder soon discovered that many homeless programs were not working. They were work camps, or just warehousing people. Then he found some that were cults. Forced into one church only, while receiving Federal funds which prohibit those actions. Research also showed our founder that few programs were producing credible results, and that most money was spent on administration, and not the clients who needed the help. He then started the Mission in Citrus. Their first shelter was started on three dollars and an answer to prayer in 2008.
The Founder sat down with the original residents that became the Mission in Citrus. Rules and procedures were formed, so that a program designed for the homeless by the homeless would work. Who better to decide how to effectively help the homeless but the homeless themselves? When collections were done, everyone would count the money in front of the others, and put it straight into the bank. They would all attend the church of their choice or not. They decided that God would lead their way. So the Mission started out, and remains a faith based shelter, where all have their freedom. The Mission started out with six residents, and today helps between one hundred and one hundred and fifty per day. And all on $ 333 a day.
Since the Mission was founded upon freedom, and as a family. They all went out and found employment to pay the bills. Each one paid a portion, and helped out those who had not yet found jobs. They found that it was working. Soon a second shelter was started across the street. Within a year they were so crowded, they had to use 60 tents. It was all about survival. Many flocked to them for their freedom.
For an entire year, they kept a hidden society from the public. They soon grew to over 60 tents, and a large military tent. Over 100 homeless people in a hidden tent city helping each other. Policing themselves and all pitching in to cover the bills. One fond memory was a bad storm in which a large tree fell on the only unoccupied tent. A little left or right would have meant serious injury or death. They all rushed to church the next morning.
They used enclosed trailers to hide all the tents from public view. But one day, someone flew over us, and reported the tent city to the County, and a small war followed.
Within a week, a small army of County and State officials showed up. We were told that all tents had to come down. We had numerous fire code and other violations. Too many people on the septic system.
After several heated meetings, they figured out, that there were few other alternatives to housing so many people. They had never dealt with such a situation. They knew nothing about homelessness.
Several churches, individuals, and business owners came to their aid. They brought everything up to code as much as possible, and gained many supporters. Within six months, all tents were down, and they opened their third shelter. Just for Veterans. People thought they were crazy, when they opened on less than five thousand dollars and a lot of faith. Comparable shelters cost $ 2.7 million dollars to build. It presently houses 15 Veterans. They cannot increase the population until a sprinkler system is installed. They still need $ 10,000 to get one installed.
Today they operate five shelters housing over one hundred on average. All on $ 10,000 a month. They work with their daily bread, a lot of prayer and faith. They use or recycle 90% of their donations. They do not operate thrift stores. All in need are freely given. From food, to vehicles, building supplies and more. Wal-Mart, Home Depot, Bed Bath and Beyond, and others have helped them through many tough spots. Through donations of materials and other help, many poor and homeless are helped each day. Over 70% of their residents are working and pay 80% of their bills. Though they have leaking roofs, and other amenities that they do without. They are still a family, and are thankful to God and all others who helped.
Their hope is that people read this story and help in some way. The County delayed an approval that just caused them to lose a $ 100,000 ESG grant from HUD, and the state of Florida. One that they worked very hard to earn. They have earned the GUIDESTAR Seal. One of the largest charity checks in the US. For their
transparency and reputation. A seal very few charities earn. They are leading the way in the Great Nonprofits Social Justice awards, currently in fourth position in the entire US. They lead the way in reviews by present and former clients with over 84 reviews .But still must fight for all they receive.
They are now working on a policy and procedures manual, and program outline that others will be able to use. It will save taxpayers millions of dollars. There is more information on their website and contact information, should anyone choose to help.
They believe in mountainous prayers. They are reaching out, as losing the grant has put them in serious financial difficulty. Their prayer is for your help in any way you can. Their hopes are that Corporations, churches, business owners, and individuals read their plea and answer their mountainous prayer in any way they can.