LAKELAND, Fla. (WFLA) — Deborah Cozzetti envisions a place for people to spend their day seeking services, resting and feeling welcome.
“To let them know we’re here for you,” said Cozzetti, director of programs at Talbot House Ministries of Lakeland.
Talbot House, which has an emergency shelter and a longer-term program for people who do not have a home, has filed a proposal with the City of Lakeland to create a day center on the non-profit organization’s existing campus, according to Cozzetti.
“Put up a tent, put on some benches, have the money to hire some crew, some case managers, some security so that when they’re leaving in the morning, instead of having to go outside and kind of hanging around waiting for lunch,” said Cozzetti.
One place some people from Talbot House and other organizations for people who are homeless go is Munn Park.
One survey showed one quarter of the people experiencing homelessness at Munn Park came from Talbot House, according to Cozzetti.
Earlier this year, the city of Lakeland held a public forum on ways to make the downtown park more attractive for families.
There have also been discussions on how to address the homeless population, including limiting food distribution, according to the Lakeland Ledger.
While well-intentioned, Cozzetti said some people who provide the food to the homeless are not thinking it all the way through.
“What’s happening to the garbage? What’s happening to everything else? Things are stuck under the benches and not thrown away properly. Park isn’t set up to handle anything like that,” she said.
City leaders were unavailable to talk about this issue with Wednesday but News Channel 8 has been told discussions will continue as early as next week.
A timeline on Talbot House’s day center depends on procedures involving approval, funding and staffing.