St. Lucie offers homeless neighbors an alternative destination in Florida

By: Brad Rowland

After collaboration with several agencies and other stakeholders, Adam’s Place officially opened its doors in late January. The program, operated by The Salvation Army in St. Lucie County, Florida, exists to provide a safe, productive space for homeless men in the area and aims to avoid the building issue of homeless criminalization.

“There is a significant homeless problem in St. Lucie County,” said Lieutenant Jeff Marquis, corps officer. “Before the creation of Adam’s Place, there were only two options if someone is picked up simply for sleeping where they aren’t supposed to. They were either brought to jail or to the county border and asked to not return. We’re trying to provide a better alternative to break the cycle.”

Adam’s Place spawned from a homeless task force formed specifically to address the criminalization of the homeless. Private citizens Bill and Estelle Turney connected with the task force and provided significant funding for the program that now bears the name of their son, Adam.

The program, modeled in part after an initiative in Fort Myers, Florida, is a voluntary entity for homeless men. No individual is ordered to stay and operate within the program, but it does provide a tool for law enforcement to avoid criminal proceedings and allow people the opportunity to start anew with the backing and resources of The Salvation Army and its partners.

The 28-bed jail diversion shelter has 24 long-term slots and four reserved for short-term and transitional situations. The Army is working with Veterans Affairs to try to create positions reserved for homeless men who served in the military.

First, Adam’s Place serves as a “drop-off” shelter to meet housing and basic needs, with the ability to deliver support and comprehensive case management, should the individual choose to remain in the program. There is no pre-determined length of stay associated with entry, though Lieutenant Marquis indicates that men are only required to “do anything in their power to emerge from the program.”

“We’re trying to reiterate to these men that this is a new standard they are going to live their life by and we want to help in breaking the cycle of generational poverty,” he said. “I think people need to know there are other options and we want to give them the tools to get back on their feet and be able to do what they strive to do. There is hope and we want to be a part of showing that to people.”