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Mobile shelter provides warm place for homeless to sleep

Published: Jan. 23, 2022 at 11:56 PM EST
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With temperatures forecast to drop into the 30s in areas like Vero Beach, the need for homeless shelters is great.

"I try not to be out in the cold. I might freeze to death," Calyne Cox, who has been homeless for seven years, said Sunday. "The first day I was homeless, my mom kicked me out. I wasn't able to get a job and they threw me out. Like, my friend helped me get a job, but we had to sleep outside and we made a campfire and that's it — was in the middle of winter, too, and we made a campfire and just stay warm."

Cox, 29, has lived around the country and moved to Florida for the weather, but he said he only has a blanket to get by.

Veterans like John Kavanaugh have been homeless for 38 years and get creative to survive.

"How I keep warm? For years and years and years, I use laundry soap from laundromats and I put it on my clothes, and I keep it in my pocket and it keeps me warm," Kavanaugh said.

The two are friends and said they look out for each other, but organizations like The Source in Vero Beach are also ready to roll into action with their mobile shelter, the Dignity Bus.

"As you know, in the Treasure Coast, public service transportation shuts down at, I think it's 6 o'clock on Saturdays, and I believe it doesn't even run on Sundays, so that's why the bus is pretty unique and pretty powerful because we can get to them."

The Source is a Christian outreach ministry that provides meals, showers, laundry services, job training and more to the homeless.

The Dignity Bus runs 365 days a year and provides 20 sleeping pods, a bathroom and a place to keep their belongings. On cold nights, it's also a warm place out of the elements.

The bus runs on first-come, first-serve reservations and will travel to four pick-up locations.

"Our goal is to move people out of homelessness," Anthony Zorbaugh, CEO and executive director of The Source, said. "We want to move you into a life of self-sustaining, so we have a culinary training program that anybody that goes through the program gets a bed for free. It's part of your package. We want to provide you a safe night's sleep every single night. Then we open it up to the community and the community can pay $2 a night or $50 a month and they can reserve their bed. So this allows individuals to move forward and tries to get individuals into affordable housing."

The bus has been in operation since March and, in less than a year of operation, has served more than 160 people in need of shelter.

They're gearing up to launch a second Dignity Bus in the Brevard County city of Palm Bay. It will provide 16 beds.

The Source has purchased property in Sebastian, which has 19 cottages that will provide affordable housing for people.

Fifteen are one bedroom cottages for $500 a month, while four are two bedrooms for $650.

The monthly cost includes utilities, cable, WiFi and more and is expected to launch by the end of 2022.

"We want to promote community in people," Zorbaugh said. "Housing doesn't solve homelessness, but community does."

Scripps Only Content 2022