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DeLand picks new site for its homeless center

Susan Clark, executive director of The Neighborhood Center of West Volusia, stands outside the group's headquarters on South Woodland Boulevard. The proposed West Volusia homeless shelter will now be situated near the Center.

Susan Clark, executive director of The Neighborhood Center of West Volusia, stands outside the group's headquarters on South Woodland Boulevard. The proposed West Volusia homeless shelter will now be situated near the Center.

New location is closer to Neighborhood Center

DeLand’s homeless shelter isn’t built yet, but it’s already moving.

After concern was expressed about the proximity of the original site at 224 S. Florida Ave. to a growing Downtown DeLand district and a few specific businesses, city leaders searched for another site and found one next door to The Neighborhood Center of West Volusia, the agency that will operate the facility.

“There’s been some pushback from one of the Downtown merchants, and from other people as well,” DeLand Mayor Bob Apgar said.

Both the DeLand City Commission and Volusia County government — which has agreed to provide funds to build the shelter — approved the move to 417 S. Palmetto Ave., two blocks south of the original site.

While the city already owned the former dry-cleaner site on South Florida Avenue, the purchase price for the new property is $190,000. However, city officials pointed out, the new site includes a house that will be renovated to provide additional transitional housing, and has the advantage of being closer to The Neighborhood Center.

Volusia County has agreed to provide $1.225 million for the facility’s construction and other capital costs, so long as the City of DeLand can make arrangements for the first five years of operational costs to

be funded by West Volusia cities, churches and businesses.

At last count, DeLand and Deltona have each committed $50,000 a year to the project, while

Lake Helen pledged $1,500 a year, DeBary $20,000 a year, and Orange City agreed to provide $15,000 a year. Another $20,000 or so has been pledged by churches, individuals and businesses.

“In order for this to work, everybody’s gotta have skin in the game,” DeLand City Manager Michael Pleus said, adding, “Not just in voluntary contributions, but in monetary contributions — cities, churches, county.”

The new property is smaller than the Best Cleaners site, but creating a two-story facility will allow for the same amenities.

“It’ll still operationally be the same,” Pleus said.

Pleus said construction costs would remain the same unless an elevator is required. In that case, construction costs would be $30,000 more.

- A. Janell Williams, janell@beacononlinenews.com

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