Panama City Commissioners Approve Land Purchase for Homeless Center

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Panama City commissioners are moving ahead with plans to build a new homeless resource center and eventually move the Panama City Rescue Mission out of the downtown area.

Commissioners unanimously approved the proposal to buy about 70 acres for the facility near Bayou George. The fireworks expected over the discussion never happened Tuesday night.

The vote is the first step to build a one-stop-shop for transients trying to get back on their feet.

Jo Shaffer, Community Resource Center Task Force Manager, said, "A comprehensive continuum of health, housing, and vocational programs."

The move came after more than a year of research by Mayor Greg Brudicki's Community Resource Center Task Force. Tuesday, members from the task force presented commissioners with their proposal and a final plea for the city to support the plans.

Emily Dowdy, C.R.C. Task Force Chairman, said "We've studied best practices and processed how other communities have successfully transformed their homeless populations into productive members of society."

Panama City has been struggling to control the growing homeless population in Bay County for years now, and although this new center is seen by many as the best option, residents living near the site of the proposed center don't want it in their backyard.

Some of those residents showed up for Tuesday night's meeting. But when it came down to the vote, no one in the audience voiced their opposition to the plan.

The cost of the land will be about $455,000.

Commissioner John Kady expressed concern about having more than one homeless center operating in the county at the same time. But the Community Resource Center Task Force said the rescue mission seems to be on board, assuring commissioners the new center would be the only one of its kind in operation.

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