I have lived in Jacksonville since around 2002. I don't like it here. The Whites here are extremely racist and the Blacks here do squat about it. What's worse, the people that run this city seem to be completely inept. Here's an example:
Jacksonville is not the booming metropolis some magazines would lead you to believe. It's a dying city. Florida was one of the hardest hit states in the housing bubble and Jacksonville has never really been that prosperous to begin with, especially when you compare it to the other major Florida cities: Miami, Orlando, Tampa, etc. At the heart of this decay is a downtown area in ruin. It's filled with abandoned and/or dilapidated structures waiting for the wrecking ball to come. However, the wrecking ball has yet to fall because the city cannot afford the cost of demolishing these towering eyesores.
Thus the logical plan would be to remodel a few of the buildings and attract businesses to the area, which, in their defense, city officials are trying. Then we encounter the elephant in the room: downtown's homeless population. There's a park in the middle of downtown right between the main library and city hall. It would be a great place for people to congregate for lunch and festivities if not for the dozen homeless people on every walkway in the park.
About five or six blocks down from there is a place called "The Landing" where you can sit on a bench overlooking the beautiful St. John's River. You could bring a date and watch the ships go by. You could, but you're not going to because homeless people have been robbing and attacking people at The Landing. They've also been defecating (that's doo-dooing) next to many shops and businesses. Downtown Jacksonville is overrun with homeless people. This is a problem.
The solution to this problem is an abandoned motel across the Matthews bridge on Arlington Expressway. It was bought by a mega-church called Bethel Baptist and is currently in disuse since the church no longer has the funds to remodel it to be a hotel/convention center. The city could easily partner with the church to turn that center into a new homeless shelter AND rezone the homeless shelters that are already downtown, so that they'll have to move away from the downtown area.
That is the solution to Jacksonville's homeless problem: move the homeless shelters. Simple. Why? The term "homeless" is actually a misnomer. The vagrants that plague downtown have a place where they can eat, sleep, and even have religious gatherings. It's called a rescue mission. That's where homeless people live. If one truly looks at a homeless person as a human being, one must also recognize that most human beings don't venture far from home voluntarily. Thus wherever the rescue missions are, that's where the homeless will be.
You may be thinking that I am a mere inexperienced simpleton who knows nothing of city politics. You're probably thinking that whatever the City of Jacksonville implemented was far more organized and thought out than my suggestion. Well, I'll let you read it for yourself:
If you're not in the mood to click the link, I'll just paraphrase for you. The mayor plans to open a day center for downtown's homeless population. Where will the day center be located? Why downtown, of course! The center will be placed in the existing City Rescue Mission and will add more people and resources to make more homeless people self-sufficient.
Now let's go over Jacksonville's homeless problem again. The downtown area is dying because there's nothing to do there. There's nothing to do there because there's not much business there. There's not much business there because homeless people keep defecating in front of the businesses and attacking people. My solution: move the homeless shelters. Jacksonville's solution: make the homeless shelters nicer and bigger.
Now I understand that the City Rescue Mission is trying to eradicate homelessness. Unfortunately, a war on homelessness is about as effective as a war on drugs. Also, Jacksonville's problem isn't the homeless. It's the homeless being downtown. I understand that better law enforcement could stop the homeless from pooping everywhere. However, the city's been slashing its law enforcement budget and barely has enough cops to keep the peace as it is. I understand that a lot of people don't want homeless people near them. That's why I suggested the abandoned motel on Arlington Expressway.
Have you seen the expressway? It's a pit, a pig-sty, a mess, a place that you don't want to be after dark. This is the place that you're supposed to put your homeless shelter. Why? So that the homeless people will have better access to the care these missions keep promising. More importantly, the surrounding area is filled with people too poor to sue the city or put up a decent political struggle. The area's in decline anyway from the increased crime. Also, it's part of the public transit system, so it won't be hard for the homeless people to move there from downtown. It's close to downtown, but the Matthews bridge is too treacherous to walk across. Thus once the bus shuts down at night, the homeless people will be safe and sound on the other side of the St. John's River and people will be free to enjoy whatever nightlife decides to come to downtown Jacksonville, FL. Once the homeless are gone from downtown, they'll have little reason to return since they'll be closer to Regency Square Mall and a library. Panhandling heaven!
But no... with an estimated 1,500 homeless out of ~2,662 total downtown residents, the leaders of Jacksonville have decided to give the homeless a day center. They've even illegalized panhandling downtown. Of course, these measures should blow up in their faces by next year since:
1. We don't have enough cops to babysit vagrants.
2. Homeless people are ATTRACTED to homeless shelters. If you make them bigger, more will come.
With all this being said, welcome to Jacksonville!!! When are you leaving?