Clay County Rescue Mission addresses increased need for growing homeless population

ORANGE PARK, Fla. — The number of homeless people in Clay County is growing every day. While some are living on the streets, the Clay County Rescue Mission said many others are working families who simply cannot afford rent anymore.

As the mission receives more calls for help, it’s asking the public for assistance.

The mission does not receive government funding for grants at this time. That’s why donations are so critical.

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Currently, the mission is housing 16 people in several hotels they partner with.

Your donation could help put a roof over someone’s head as the temperatures fall this winter.

Randall Prevatt has been living on the streets for the last five years. His current home is made up of a storage bin, a backpack, some pillows, blankets and a tent.

“There’s no help for me,” Prevatt said.

Prevatt has been bouncing around Florida ever since he was released from prison, with no luck finding permanent housing.

“It’s really hard. We need to find something to help people, homeless people to get shelter,” Prevatt said.

He’s one of many in Clay County experiencing homelessness that the Clay County Rescue Mission is trying to help.

“Very recently we’ve experienced a high increase of homelessness in our county,” Clay County Rescue Mission Executive Director Amy Houston said.

Houston said they receive anywhere from 15 to 25 calls a week from struggling families.

Not all of them are necessarily living on the streets; many are working families.

“These are people that, traditionally, people are not going to consider as homeless,” Houston said.

Others are part of the rescue mission’s reentry program, like Alfred Selph, who needed help after he got out of prison.

“If I didn’t have a roof over my head, I’d be back in jail for house arrest. They gave me a place to be able to look for employment and they gave me a place to lay down my head every night,” Selph said.

The mission puts homeless people up in hotels for weeks at a time. A donation of around $259 pays for one week in a hotel, but it goes beyond that.

“We find out if they need health insurance or if they need medical care; we take care of that, and we make sure they have a job,” Houston said.

The mission strives to help those like Selph and Prevatt, and everyone else in between.

That helping hand starts in the community.

“We need to help homeless people,” Prevatt said.

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One of the first things to go when someone is struggling is their car. That’s why the rescue mission is looking for bicycles, bus passes and even Uber gift card donations.

You can help here.

The rescue mission also just secured land to start building tiny homes for elderly women.

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