BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) — In a past life, the sheriff’s building complex on 57th Avenue East in Bradenton was a work release center for the recently incarcerated. But the thousands of square footage is getting a new start in a few months, as it transforms into a transitional living facility with wraparound services for families in need.
“My heart is with the vulnerable children of Manatee County,” said Amanda Ballard. “I know that the need is there.”
Ballard is the District 2 commissioner for Manatee County.
“We’re really trying to give these families a genuine opportunity to make a change,” Ballard said.
She said the county is spending about $600,000 on this project out of the $3 million they set aside to counter the effects of homelessness on the community.
“We’re not just giving someone a place to stay,” Ballard said. “We’re actually giving them the services and the skills that they need.”
Ballard is leading the charge to turn the sheriff’s offices into one building with nonprofit services, like a temp agency, tutoring and counseling, and a second building with temporary housing for about 30 families.
“This isn’t just one or two nights, or one or two weeks and then you’re out,” Ballard said. “The intent is for these families to be able to stay here for three or four months.”
The program will be called, ‘Under One Roof,’ and run by a local nonprofit that Ballard said will be chosen by the end of October.
“We’ll be able to accommodate, hopefully, 15, 20 different service providers,” Ballard explained. “That are able to work with these families.”
There is still work to be done inside, like fixing up the kitchen and getting rid of the handcuffs on benches.
“Right now, it doesn’t look like a place that you would want to bring your family for those wraparound services,” Ballard admitted. “But a few months from now, it’s going to be a completely different environment.”
The county hopes to house its first families in the complex by Christmas.