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New Homeless Outreach Program Partners Volusia Deputies With First Step Shelter Staff

Date Added: July 26, 2022 2:06 pm

Andrew Gant
Office of Public Affairs & Media Relations


A new public hotline, 386-999-HELP, is designed to direct resources where they’re needed

A new partnership between the Volusia Sheriff’s Office and the First Step Shelter starts next week, with deputies helping First Step staff address homelessness in east Volusia County with an outreach program and a new public hotline.

First Step’s new “Eastern Volusia Homeless Outreach Team” is set to start Monday, Aug. 1, with a deputy accompanying an outreach worker visiting people who may be candidates for the First Step Shelter or other resources.

The shelter is also deploying a new 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. hotline, 386-999-HELP, for Volusia residents and businesses to request services for people they believe are in need – and for people experiencing homelessness to find out about the resources available.

“Our goal is to meet people where they are and give them a chance to access the services they might need,” said Dr. Victoria Fahlberg, First Step’s executive director. “For those who are looking for a new path, we can be that first step to starting a new life in stable housing.”

The outreach program is intended to help First Step reach more candidates for its services in Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, Port Orange, Holly Hill, Daytona Beach Shores and Ponce Inlet, the six east Volusia cities that contribute funding to the First Step Shelter program.

While visiting camps and other areas, the outreach worker will invite candidates to try the shelter’s secure outdoor “safe zone,” where beds, bathrooms, food and water are available. For those who accept the invitation, First Step will arrange transportation and a deputy will begin the background check process for formal admission to the shelter program.

For those who are hesitant, the hotline number will be provided in case they decide they’re interested or have more questions in the future.

“We’re proud to partner with First Step on this effort to help people change their lives,” said Sheriff Mike Chitwood, who is also stationing a deputy at First Step Shelter as part of the partnership. “When we find someone who’s looking to get off the street and into a safer, more stable environment, our deputies will be there to help them get through the door.”

Fahlberg said the 386-999-HELP hotline will also provide clear follow-up on resident requests. When a resident or business reports an issue, the outreach team will respond, visit the subject of the call, and then report back to the caller with the results.

“There’s no quick fix to end homelessness anywhere in America, but we can make a difference in our own community by working together,” said Daytona Beach Mayor Derrick Henry, who serves as chairman of First Step Shelter’s board of directors. “With the outreach and collaboration this project brings to bear, I believe the public is going to see what’s possible for those who take advantage of everything the First Step Shelter has to offer.”

The First Step Shelter opened in December 2019 at 3889 W. International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach, and has a capacity of about 60 single adult residents. That capacity is expected to expand to 70 with additional staffing.

In addition to shelter, First Step provides access to comprehensive health, addiction and counseling services as well as help finding employment and housing. The program’s goal is to move residents out of homelessness and into permanent housing.

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