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Bunnell Wants County, Palm Coast and Flagler Beach to Help Solve Its Homeless Problem

| April 9, 2013

A mass of red-shirted supporters of Bunnell's First United Methodist Church and its works on behalf of the homeless filled the chambers of the Bunnell City Commission Monday evening. (© FlaglerLive)

A mass of red-shirted supporters of Bunnell’s First United Methodist Church and its works on behalf of the homeless filled the chambers of the Bunnell City Commission Monday evening. (© FlaglerLive)

It happened almost exactly the same way two years ago.

A few people in Bunnell complained about the homeless who gather at First United Methodist Church of Bunnell on North Pine Street, the closest thing Flagler County has to a homeless shelter. Much of the complaining was based on misperception and false assumptions.

On Wednesdays, the church provides a free dinner to the homeless. On the coldest nights of the year (the temperature must fall below 40 degrees), it opens its Fellowship Hall for overnight shelter. The rest of the year, men and women are allowed to use the grounds’ bathroom, water fountain and Prayer Garden, but not stay there overnight. To some neighbors, it’s a lot more, and a lot worse, than that.

Two years ago a small collection of businesses and individuals complained to the city administration and to commissioners that the homeless were creating a nuisance. That they were spending nights at the church. That they were loitering or littering in people’s yards, doing drugs and drinking.

The allegations were always more anecdotal than factual: for the past three years’ worth of documented police reports and arrest records from the Flagler County Sheriff’s Office, which include arrests in Bunnell, there has been no discernible pattern of mischief or crime around North Pine Street.

Audio: Rev. Beth Gardner

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If anything, that area of the city is relatively calm compared to, say, South Bunnell, or Palm Coast’s R-Section, or the multiple arrests of men who find Graham Swamp an excellent place to masturbate. If there is a pattern of issues in the church’s neighborhood, they’re not being officially documented.

And no one can link what issues do take place in Bunnell with the men and women who gather at the church. Bunnell has its share of crime and miscreants. But the homeless appear to be presumed guilty because they’re homeless, and because they’re as easy a target as they are a scapegoat.

Still, word of mouth, louder mouths especially, can have as much power to move commissioners as documentation, especially when one of the commissioners—Jenny Crain-Brady—testifies to the issues she witnesses herself from the window of the dental office where she works in Bunnell, albeit also with more anecdotal than documented stories.

Two years ago a few business owners and homeless advocates finally faced each other over the issue in a community meeting mediated by Judi Stetson, the city’s special projects director, concluding that the problem may not have been as dire as it was being portrayed, but that some cooperative work between downtown business owners and the church was a good idea. And that the issue was not Bunnell’s alone to deal with. Rather, it’s a countywide—if not a nationwide—problem.

Two years ago Bunnell thought it was time for the rest of the county and its cities to assume some responsibility for an issue that affects them all, but that only Bunnell–only the Methodist Church–is addressing earnestly. But the county and its other cities are not dealing with it because they have no shelters and they seem glad for the shelter in Bunnell to draw their own homeless population on cold nights. It relieves them of the responsibility to do anything else. And still, none of the cities or the county have done anything to address the matter.

The perceived problem has flared up again, and follows the very same pattern set two years ago: complaints based on anecdotal problems, and by very few people.

Audio: Faith Coleman

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The person who triggered this latest round is Sheryl France, who works for Comfort Realty Corp., whose Bunnell office is not far from the church. France addressed the Bunnell City Commission last month, complaining of problems and drawing a picture of chronic blight. She submitted a petition that looked longer than it really is: nineteen names from about half as many properties—not exactly an outpouring. And when the City Commission addressed the matter again Monday evening, few of these 19 names were in the audience (France was), but the chamber was full of red-shirted supporters of the church and its Sheltering Tree, the name of the non-profit organization that helps the homeless and runs the cold-weather shelter. Some 24 people addressed the commission, all but two or three in overwhelming support of the church’s works and responsibility to care for the homeless—a responsibility many called an obligation, among them Beth Gardner, pastor at the church.

“Before we started welcoming the homeless specifically on our church property, they were there, they were at our convenience stores, they were asking for money at the post office, they were there. They are there,” Gardner said, going on to explain that the church wasn’t changing to a full-time permanent homeless shelter. Just as the church operates as an emergency shelter to others when need be. There are ground rules, “and when the rules are broken the offender is asked to leave and not allowed to come back for a specified number of weeks.” The church had been allowing homeless people to park their vehicles on church property until the city’s code enforcement department ended the practice.

“First United Methodist Church is a church that identifies itself as a church overflowing with God’s love. Being a place of welcome, respite and refuge for the poor and homeless is not easy. We have our own struggles with cigarette butts, with stolen toilet paper, food wrappers and body odor. But welcoming everyone and loving even our enemies is not something we can choose not to do. It really isn’t even about what we do. This is who we are.”

Faith Coleman, a nurse who was largely instrumental in founding and running Bunnell’s free clinic for the uninsured for years, with the late John Canakaris, told the commission that her cancer—stage four– had returned for the third time, that she had to quit work in November, and that if it weren’t for a son who was making her mortgage payments, she would be homeless. “I don’t mind being treated as though I’m poor because I am,” Coleman said. “What I do mind is the discrimination that people get when you don’t have money and when you don’t have insurance, and in case you don’t realize it, when you do get disability, you don’t get any money for six months.”

Audio: Carla Traister

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But there were also those who, like Crain-Brady, could sympathize with complaining property and business owners. “Rev. Gardner is doing what she’s being called to do,” Crain-Brady, who advertises her Christianity on her sleeve, said, wishing every church did the same. But that doesn’t diminish the problem she sees. “It’s a real issue, it’s creating real blight, I watch out my dental office window at the group that’s congregating. They’re begging money, they’re hanging out at the convenience store, and when I leave that group is hanging out at the Methodist church.” Crain-Brady called it an unintended consequence: they’re not invited to the church, but they end up there, creating an issue for the city that affects property values and residents’ quality of life. “I don’t know what the answer to this is. It’s a sad issue.”

Commissioner John Rogers, who spends every third Sunday driving a bus-full of homeless men and women to Calvary Baptist Church, where he ministers to them and helps clothe and feed them, nevertheless agreed with Crain-Brady. “I commend you for what you’re doing, it’s not easy, it’s a burden on my heart too,” Rogers said to the church’s supporters. “But Commissioner Brady spoke very well of the church side and the city side, and it’s definitely a tough, tough one for us board members up here.” He added: “Hopefully we can all come to a fine—I don’t know how to say this—”

Commissioner Elbert Tucker to his left whispered him the word: “balance.” It would be the only word Tucker spoke the entire 90 minutes the commission spent on the issue.

“A balance, a fair balance,” Rogers said.

That balance was not found at the commission’s meeting Monday evening. Commissioners at least agree that the problem doesn’t stop at Bunnell’s boundaries. They want Flagler County’s government and its other cities to get involved, to think up a solution jointly—and to pay for it jointly. Mayor Catherine Robinson wants to have conversations to that effect with her colleagues in other governments. But the same ideas were floated two years ago. As was the notion of working more cooperatively within Bunnell—between church advocates, business and property owners. After an initial blush of interest, what followed, in City Manager Armando Martinez’s word, was “apathy.” That may happen again this time around, with more words than solutions that would satisfy all sides.

Gardner left the meeting unsure about what will happen next, especially when thinking back two years, with one exception: she knows with clarity what her responsibility happens to be, and she intends to continue to assume it.

Bunnell's First United Methodist Church on N. Pine Street. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

Bunnell’s First United Methodist Church on N. Pine Street. Click on the image for larger view. (© FlaglerLive)

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51 Responses for “Bunnell Wants County, Palm Coast and Flagler Beach to Help Solve Its Homeless Problem”

  1. Peter says:

    I know how we can solve this. Turn the empty golf courses and the tennis players club into a homeless shelter. All the Christian and Muslim church leaders can volunteer to help bath them, feed them, shelter them……..What no takers ?

  2. r&r says:

    You created it now deal with it..

  3. Excellent article. Spot on. I must say I was surprised by the remarks of Former Vice Mayor Crain-Brady, totally off base in my opinion. Let it be known that any opinion I express is my own and not that of the church or the pastor.

    • Anne says:

      you are in total denial folks the residents ,businesses as well as police have documentation of the problems in the neighborhood that never had a problem until you came residents and businnesess are feed up and want their safe community back. Have you forgotten about the police bust after midnight
      have you forgotten about the arrest and bust after midnight in your church . Even last night someone had there bike in front of your church late and sleeping inside. You dont live in the area as well as your workers so how do you know what goes on. Sorry Pastor Beth and Husband the problems are very real.and you continue to allow the same people who CREATE PROMBLEMS TO COME BACK TIME AFTER TIME while they sleep under resident dwellings in their yards and woods on Pine between Lambert and Howet as well as stealing , harrassing and tormenting neighbors. Please stop being in denial.

      • Beth Gardner says:

        Anne…I am sorry that we continue to have differing experiences in the neighborhood. I DO live in the neighborhood…on Magnolia. We have two wooded lots behind our house and nothing but kids and critters play there. I am sure there are folks doing the things you say…but I am not convinced it is always the homeless that are the problem. Lots of folks wander the neighborhood, day and night, most are not homeless. The call to the church was an incidence of domestic violence; the person was arrested and released the next morning. Now the couple has moved on; they lived in their car and were parked on our property. Police are the ones to call when there is trouble. If there are folks sleeping where they aren’t supposed to, then call the police. That is why we have a no trespass sign for anyone on site after 11 pm.
        We are going to try to be better neighbors. Please feel free to call the church when someone is a bother. I would be happy to come talk with them or with you. The church number is 437-3258.

  4. Rev. Beth Gardner says:

    I want to clarify one thing: the dinner we have at the church on Wednesday evenings is a “church and community” dinner – not just for the homeless. We invite everyone that visits our food pantry to come – it is free and everyone is welcome. We call it “Soul Cafe” and dinner is at 5:30 p.m.

    • Tressie DuPont Paytas says:

      The church has been having Dinners at the church for over 30 years. It is sad that good paying jobs are hard to come by around our area. Do you know how many people get paid only $8.00 an hour, the avg rent now is $800.00 a month, gas $4.00 a gallon then you have electric bill,water bill, don’t forget food so how many hours do you have to work to make $2000.00 a month lets see 250 hours a month 62.50 hours a week most jobs you are not allowed to go over 39 a week if you are lucky to get full time, you are still short 23.50 houra a week to make the money you need to pay for the basic needs of life. We do need to help the homeless there are alot of homeless children in our schools in Flagler county and in St Johns county. Put the old hospital to good use. Not all homeless people are BAD NEWS some are children and they maybe sitting in class next to our children This breaks my heart there needs to be a program to help the homeless, the under employed the, single parent, the person having only SS to live on. Call it The Angle House

  5. Jan Reeger says:

    FlaglerLive, your article is right on target with the issues and very well stated. Sadly, the solutions are not forthcoming. At least, not yet.

  6. Edman says:

    We should all give thanks for the Sheltering Tree and find ways to make their work easier. As the saying goes “there but for the grace of God go I”. So many of us are blessed that we forget how hard it is for some of us to survive, let alone thrive, in this world. We need to establish more shelters like this and do much more to help the less fortunate.

  7. Gia says:

    They became homeless by their own fault. No taxpayer & no cities own them anything.

    • Will says:

      Gia, I hope neither you nor anyone in your family has an illness, a service connected disability, a fraudulently processed home foreclosure, or any of the other external causes of calamity that are behind many of the homeless. Your world view is terribly sad.

    • Helene says:

      Wow Gia! I hope you read the quote in the above post by Edman and take it to heart.

  8. Just one of the long time commuity members says:

    Gee, It appears that someone has finally realized there is a big problem with this issue. And there are many people that can be assisted. Did anyone think of looking for grants? both federal and state not to mention talking with large corporations about getting a deal on the old hospital. There is plenty of room there and services could be offered to help people with their issues and yet protect the people that need to be protected.

  9. Mel Bronson says:

    Why don’t you open up a hotel for the homeless. That is what the progressive liberals do in California and New York. Before you know it, every homeless non working person in the nation is making a bee line to the free food and hotel. This is a bottomless pit Bunnell is creating. Sure you want to help people but this is not how it is done. The liberals just make people DEPENDENT in exchange for their vote. That’s the liberal agenda and sick self serving philosophy.

  10. David R Campbell says:

    I sincerely feel the seriousness of the problem confronting us here.
    While many of us have the capability of housing some of the less fortunate of our area, how many of us are unwilling to do so because of the fear of not knowing who we are inviting into our homes? I would be one of those.
    Could’nt some data base be set up so that a family just trying to survive their recent loss of (home-job-vehicle) or something else equal to their survival have access to?
    I’m not at ALL referring to the homeless people that are content to live their lives as they are doing so now.
    I’m referring to the families that have finally accepted that when the *law* knocks on the door-you’re officially “homeless”.
    I would open my home in a heart-beat to a deserving person/family. But that’s like “pie in the sky” unless I have a way of checking someones background.
    May I just throw that idea out there?
    Bless the people who are trying to help in a way that I’m not capable of as yet.
    Thanks, Pierre, for your open mind.

    • Mel Bronson says:

      Why not just become a true collectivist and deed your house over to the progressive party. They know how to take from the public and spend it all. And when you are housing some of these homeless, you won’t mind if one of them slits your throat because the left has taught them that they are entitled to what you have. Forget about that you worked hard for years to achieve what you have but these lazy entitled homeless are now believing they are entitled to what you have. That’s what president pinocchio and the vicious leftist democrat party are now espousing.

      Today, MSNBC communist representative Melissa Harris-Perry announced that your children are not yours but belong to the community. That is what is coming people. They want your children, your home and your money. Oh yes, first they will disarm you so you have no choice in the matter. If you don’t see the danger of the liberal philosopy and agenda then you will surely get what you so richly deserve for being so blind, gullible and stupid.

  11. Jim R. says:

    The solution to the problem is for every other church to open its doors and take in the homeless, you know, like real Christians or Christ himself would do.
    The meaning of those red shirts is the exact opposite of those in New Smyrna, in NS they stand for racism and bigotry.

  12. confidential says:

    Bunnell code enforcement prohibited the homeless cars to park in the church parking area ..? Isin’t that a private parking for the church? How could Bunnell enforce that..? God bless that Church and its parishioners for their compassion with the homeless, they have to stay somewhere and our churches have always helped the needy. Maybe our needy around Bunnell should be talked into and they can collaborate about avoiding littering if they are really doing that. Sadly we have plenty of homeless that I see in Palm Coast as well, is not only Bunnell. We should have a dedicated shelter with plenty of parking for the homeless leaving in cars, with bathroom and showers facilities or help the church to enlarge theirs for their homeless and help them with utilities bills, after all they give away our taxes by the trillions to foreign aid and world wide wars to preserve “others” human rights and to billionaire families running and profiteering from these Florida speedways and sports stadiums, but can’t afford to sustain a simple homeless shelter and punish or complaint of our religious organizations trying to help them. We have many disadvantaged and homeless families in this county, ask Pastor Silano. Maybe is time to help the needy and stop our hard earned millions given away to the rich.

    • Anonymous says:

      There are several families living in tents in wooded areas in Flagler County. This includes Palm Coast. How do you think that fire started on Cypress Point Pkwy last year? It was right behind Mother Set on who is one of the largest and richest churches in the county. Hmm, I wonder why that church is not helping with this problem. I challenge them to be Christians and stop sending their help to the St. Augustine kitchen. After all charity should begin at home.

    • Anne says:

      Simple. They are not zoned for what they are doing and and ulerss you live within a few block radfius you have no idea what goes on there. They have violated everything and taken huge advantange crossing over all bounduries
      > some people really need help however the same faces have been there for the last three years and they are nt o providing anything to besides food and shelter for these people they need to make sure children are in school, providing more resources in the way of assistance to job, training, and as we all know many federal programs are available for school. Stop enabling from someone who has overcome this lifestyle by aapplying themselves and not having someone enable them

    • Anne says:

      They are not checking people out of state people have been living there for lengthy periods of time with 2 years expires tags being hidden by church since they allow them to back into Church on North Church Street side. Multiple cases of assault, Battery, drugs. public drinking on grounds and streets as well as prostitution on church grounds that that has been going on for 3 years now. This has been addressed multiple times in the past.

      • Beth Gardner says:

        Anne… Your statements about what happens on church grounds are untrue!! And we have many formerly homeless gentlemen who are now in apartments or shared housing, they have jobs, and they are contributing to the community in positive ways. There names are Todd, Martin, Gary, Jon. and there are more success stories. Many even come and volunteer with our food pantry, the cold-weather shelter, and with taking care of our property. Please stop making false accusations.

  13. Magnolia says:

    According to a 60 Minutes show, about one quarter of the nation’s children are living in cheap motels, many in the Orlando area. They are going to require services which may not be available here.

    Bad times are not getting any better.

  14. glide10 says:

    It’s a Shame that this county does not offer any services for it’s community and has to resort to Daytona Beach or St. Augustine. And those counties, receive monies from Flagler to provide those services. This county needs to step up and move forward and realize this communities needs. Especially in regards to mental health.

  15. getittogether says:

    I find it very concerning that a community can so easily turn its back on fellow residents. The belief that people CHOOSE to be homeless is the most ignorant and cold hearted statement I have ever heard. No one desires a life of nights in the cold, no food, mental instability, and drug/alcohol addictions. Mental health and community rehabilitation is absolutely crucial to getting the homeless back into a productive role, and it is seriously lacking in this area. Simply feeding and providing a temporary shelter is not enough to get these people back into the community…there are larger underlying issues that need to be addressed. There is a serious need for these resources, and I feel as though it is our responsibility to look out for our fellow citizens, regardless of religious affiliation. I do not want this to be misconstrued as perpetuating free handouts- there are ways to encourage and motivate people to be productive and contributing individuals of the community.

  16. concerned citizen says:

    I don’t see how people can be so cruel to those poor people who need the assistancem or maybe your the kind of people who have had everything and never had to worry about where your going to sleep or how your going feed your kids. May god continue to work in this at the Methodist church.

  17. GoodFella says:

    Why don’t they teach the homeless how to work the system just like all the people in the government housing. Then they could also live off our tax money.

  18. anonymous says:

    @Jim R. I thought one going to a house of worship was meant to help people apply Bible principles in their lives in order to get to the root of the matter of how or why they are in a particular situation. Feeding Jesus sheep wasn’t just about physical food it mainly was about spiritual food – meaning give a man a fish feed him for a day, teach a man to fish feed him for a lifetime. These Churches need to do their job of helping these ones in need to know that whatever they are facing is temporary IF they also EAT SPIRITUALLY. Why else would they go to a Church for help? And if you say worship has nothing to do with it I say why is the Church involved in feeding the poor to begin withif it’s just about food? Of course we all have to eat and no hungry person should be left out in the cold. This comment is more about the Church than the unfortunate. A food drive shouldn’t be used to lure people in to get preached at, TEACH them as the scriptures have instructed. That’s what saves and changes lives.

    Matthew 6:25-27 25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

    • Jim R. says:

      anonymous–If churches are going to “get to the root of the matter of how or why they are in a particular situation” then bible principles have nothing to do with it, it becomes politics. Blaming the poor and homeless for the condition they are in and telling them they should follow the principles of your quote of Matthew is just the kind of thinking our rich greedy conservative vultures love. What that quote means to the poor and unfortunate is be satisfied with nothing because that’s what you deserve

  19. Bunnell Resident says:

    @david campbell

    Neither Bunnell nor Flagler County is creating this problem. The problem already exists. The church is the right solution for this problem it is not an issue of government. If any homeless people start commiting crimes they can work out a longer term housing solution in jail. The church’s limited resources will provide a limit to the program and keep it modestly sized. What Flagler could do is send some counselor’s down there maybe on Wednesday nights, find out who the homeles are. Find out why they are homeless, how long, etc. there is a big difference between the short term homeless person who has fallen on bad luck and the long term homeles person who is likeley mentally ill. Finding out these answers should take priority over throwing taxpayer dollars at a problem we don’t even know the details to. The church could also consider taking up a more rural location, perhaps a facility further out of town where no neighbors would be bothered. Flagler has millions of acres of isolated land. Shame on local government if they start funding a massive homeless shelter because yes it will be a magnet for the homeless to come here. I am proud of The First United Methodist Church for their compassion. The right place for programs like these are churches and charitable organizations, not government. I might go down there tonight and have dinner, make a donation big enough to fund a few extra dinners and see the problem for myself.

  20. Bunnell Resident says:

    I forgot to mention, this issue kind of reminds me of when Flagler Beach asked Palm Coast, Bunnell, etc. to help fund repairs of the FLagler Beach pier. I think Palm Coast said no, Bunnell pitched in something but not as much as Flagler Beach was asking. It struck me as kind of odd. After all, each city has expenses unique only to them. Never saw Bunnell asking Flagler Beach for money to maintain or restore anything. The irony of it all is that it costs money anyway to go on the pier. Therefore, every time a resident of Bunnell goes out there it is $6.00 to fish per person. $1.50 just to walk out there. Flagler Beach residents can get an annual pass for like $20.00 while non Flagler Beach residents pay $150.00 for an annual pass. So, Flagler Beach was glad to take Bunnell money without so much as offering a discount to residents of Bunnell! Such gratitude…

  21. Nancy N. says:

    The level of bigotry shown here by some commenters against the poor is stunning to me. Yes, I said bigotry. Because that is what it is when you assign negative traits to a whole group of people and dismiss them out of hand as not worthy of being equal to you in society and receiving the same basic protections and daily needs that you do. Some commenters here have expressed what can only be labeled hatred of an entire group of people based just on their economic status in life, and baseless assumptions of how they got that way. If it has feathers and quacks…it’s a duck. That’s bigotry.

    • Magnolia says:

      Nancy, that is NOT BIGOTRY. It is people who do not think this nation or your dear leader are on the right track. stop calling people who do not agree with your political views racists and bigots. That is not how we solve the problem.

      We solve it through open communication and respect for all.

  22. Stevie says:

    Free meals alone don’t solve problems.

    Give me an exemption from all government regulations and licensing and a free non profit LLC with the State and I’ll go out and secure tax free donations from the community and setup a vocational training/ job placement service center with room and board for all those who participate in the program.

    We can set it up at Graham Swamp [or some other public land] rent free for starters and get good use out of that land.

    As the program becomes successful and liquid, we can begin to pay our own way.

    Every homeless person has a gift of talent they can use to support themselves and their community.

    I don’t want any money from the government, just the land space. If someone wants to donate space from the private sector, then that is even better.

    The community will support a work training program because it provides upward mobility.

    No government agency is allowed to participate. The whole thing will be kept private.

    We will use proven principles that work. No one will be forced to pray or listen to religious sermons. Anyone who wants to pray will be allowed to and anyone who is qualified by the church to Preach the Gospel of Christ will be allowed to in the presences of those who want to freely participate.

    • Magnolia says:

      Stevie, thanks for a good solution. I will volunteer to help you. This is how we get back on our feet both as a people and as a nation.

  23. Magnolia says:

    We’re living in hell…and we don’t even know it. Congress and the Administration have failed the people in this nation.

    Money goes to private companies but no help to the people. Instead of cutting waste, their solution is more tax increases. We have all become slaves to our government.

    We are living in hell.

    • anonymous says:

      This is the kind of church I want to attend, and volunteer for. Great Job! This is what Christianity is all about.

  24. Ray Thorne says:

    When we think homeless we picture people who are down on their luck and need help. If it were only that simple. There is another side of homeless that will surely become an issue here. Just look at Jax or Daytona where the homeless are not so much families in need but those who choose to live that way. How many are committing crimes? I don’t think people are uncaring I think they do not want their city to be overrun by the highway sign holder types.

  25. gator says:

    well this has got out of hand,I’m sorry for the homeless but thay don’t try to help themselfs, thay are all over the city , yes in people yards,it, mostly older people,these people is scareing of them so bad,I know one who just lost her husban ,and she had her grandson move in with her cause thay were looking in her windows, and if you got the gas staition on 100,( kanagoo) thay meet you at your car door wanting money,scare the hell out of me, them you see them drinking and doing drugs in back of the chicken panrty rest.come on people the chruch had good a heart but these people are just using the church,I just left the bank I went by that church about 2 weeks ago the guys on the bench their ran out in front of me trying to get me to stop.scared the hell out of me. I really think Bunnell has went to the homeless,thay own the city now, now the people up at the church you need to fix it,you have lost alot of people at your church cause of these people rooming the parking lot while thay are in church, your nevers that your can is getting broking to while you are with god. .

  26. fla native says:

    There’s a fine line between doing just the right amount of help and doing too much. God want’s us to help the down trodden and needy but He also expects them not to stay in that capacity unless they’re disabled,elderly.or are children.

  27. Barry says:

    There’s more homeless in the woods around Flagler County then there are deer. A few of us decided to take a walk across US1 and down a path for excersize . We found a CITY hidden back in the woods. They had setup all kinds of stuff. Some of these “homeless” are veterans who just can’t make it in society any longer. Some come from other states because of Florida’s warm weather. Its going to get worse before anything gets better. With 90 million “non homeless” looking for jobs, how are we going to get the “homeless” jobs ?

    • Magnolia says:

      Barry, you help them start a small business service. There are jobs here. Many prefer collecting welfare and unemployment to getting a job.

  28. farstyre says:

    i say we drug test the homeless….your view may change

  29. getittogether says:

    I don’t doubt that many homeless individuals are under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. But I refuse to believe that people desire to live a life of addiction and homelessness. These people are the very ones who are in desperate need of rehabilitation and community support, and instead, we turn our backs on them with the belief that they are useless and undeserving of help. It’s a short fall from this pedestal on which we stand above these people, and I genuinely hope that no one on here ever has to experience that level of addiction or complete lack of support. NO ONE can get healthy without support, family and community, and we OWE it to our citizens to make sure they receive our resources. Complaining about their presence and offering nothing but negativity does absolutely nothing to solve this issue. I welcome your drug test, because it simply proves my point that people are homeless because of an addiction, and not simply because they are lazy and unwilling. Addictions do not solve themselves, and they require extensive rehab and support. Drug test away!

  30. Stevie says:

    “With 90 million “non homeless” looking for jobs, how are we going to get the “homeless” jobs ?”

    Look at history. Jobs are created when regulations and taxes are reduced. The country won’t pull together to support a welfare state but it will pull together to support a working community that creates jobs and economic progress. There is a return on the investment.

    Every dollar sent to DC in taxes comes back here at 25 cents. If you owe 10k in taxes you could send 5 to DC and the rest to support your community by creating jobs. Each job that is created provides new revenue. Each new welfare recipient causes the deficit to rise. Is it better to create jobs or welfare recipients? Eventually the current system will implode.

  31. Deep South says:

    Perhaps all those vacant homes in Palm Coast could house perhaps 3 or 4 homeless individuals, and provide furnishing, water, and electricity. These expenditures could then be considered a tax deduction to the homeowner, and those that provide these services.

  32. Pastor Kim says:

    We run a very similar shelter at our church. We are in a northern state, so we don’t have the homeless who specifically congregate in a place where it is warm to live. We have the mentally ill, addicted, those who have lost their apartments (because they can’t pay their rents, even though they work almost full time at two or three minimum wage jobs), those recently released from psychiatric hospitals, combat veterans who just cannot adjust to civilian life, and those who have had a myriad of bad luck. We do criminal background checks, and check on their Megan’s law status. Occasionally we will have someome “game” us, but by and large, these are fellow human beings who need help. I don’t care if someone IS a drug addict, or recently released from jail. I don’t want to read in the paper that they were found frozen to death. In Matthew, Jesus says: “Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, you do to me.” The people of the church referenced in this article are doing what Christ requires of them. I would challenge those who are so opposed to what is happening at this church to examine their own consciences, and, if they call themselves Christian, ask themselves what Christ would have THEM do to care for the poorest of the poor, and those on the margins of society.

  33. Anonymous says:

    @ Pastor Kim: Well when the clergy begins to work off voluntary donations to pay themselves I will understand your point but until then this is where it’s at. Where do the resources come from to do this? A Government tax break along with other programs contributes to the resources that are used. Why aren’t the homeless that frequent that church or yours not actual full fledged church members? The scriptures say it rains on the righteous and the unrighteous, it also says unforeseen occurrences befall us all. But If the church is going to continue to FEED the homeless claiming it’s their duty to do so, then tell the church and their staff to gets jobs like Jesus and his apostles had and feed the poor out of love for their neighbor not a substitute for them not doing the hard work of educating from the scriptures. And remember Jesus being a Carpenter wasn’t a hobby and his preaching wasn’t a paid gig of any sort. You received the word freely now give it freely. Don’t be so quick to pat yourself on the back when you yourself and staff probably get a salary and as I said before OTHER resources to help you do this work. Everything Jesus did and accomplished had a greater fulfilment for the future not a temporary fix. But than again if you teach people the real deal that kind of makes you obsolete. By the way count in the bible how many times Jesus’ apostles asked what they were to eat and look at his reply. No don’t deny someone a meal if they are hungry, of course not. Just because a church runs a food pantry doesn’t mean they are absolved of their duty to teach people to pick themselves up and become enablers. So your basically saying if the church doesn’t feed them no one will? Well that goes against what that church should be teaching. Matt 6:33 But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Al Capone ran soup kitchens too! And if they were your BROTHER based off that scripture you quoted you wouldn’t have to run background checks on them would you?

    • Cliff Fort says:

      Sheryl France has worked non stop since 2003 remodeling, maintaining and managing the property located at 208 North Church Street. She is an attentive landlord with a strong work ethic and a sense of pride in the community. Since 2010 her ability to lease the units has been progressively impeded. Existing tenants are frightened and intimidated by panhandlers, drug use and acts of assault committed on the Church property which abutts the rental units.

      Fact: No real estate investor will pour money into revitalizing rental property in the city of Bunnell when the safety of potential residents is in question.

      Fact: Why would someone invest in a small business in the city of downtown Bunnell when their patrons are harassed and tormented by the same faces that show up repeatedly for free meals at the Church which abutts highway 100 and downtown Bunnell?

      Fact: The city of Bunnell needs to offer incentives for investors to rebuild a community that is deteriorating. Investment brings business, jobs and a sense of pride to the community; most importantly, it brings revenue.

      The county must work with the city of Bunnell to provide safe facilities for the homeless. There is no where for these people to sleep other than in cars or under homes and rental properties.

      The church is not set up to warehouse the homeless.

      While the efforts of the church to provide free meals is noble, the immediate community bears the greatest short term and long term burden of the negative impact of the existing church free meals program.

      What programs does the county offer for the homeless and needy for a healthy meal, a shower and a safe facility to sleep for men, women and children? Where can they obtain medical treatment, counseling and job placement? If there isn’t this certainly should be addressed as a joint effort by the County and the City of Bunnell.

      A reasonable compromise can and should be addressed tempered with compassion and good common sense.

      208 North Church Street
      Bunnell Florida

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