LAKELAND, Fla. - Those struggling with homelessness are at higher than average risk for contracting COVID-19 due to the nature of their living situations on the streets and in shelters.
Gospel, Inc., a Lakeland-based program for transient residents, is trying to help.
The organization bought a mostly unused mobile home park off South Lake Parker Avenue and is turning it into a place for COVID-19 sufferers without a home can recover, or those who aren't sick can take refuge.
"It is a great opportunity to care for people right now during this pandemic," the founder of Gospel, Inc. told FOX 13. "It is also a great long-term opportunity to continue to care for people who are homeless to provide housing and long-term support."
Gospel, Inc. paid for the park with funds from the CARES Act. The group got one million dollars and just closed on the property. Right now, Gospel, Inc. is determining which structures are livable and which will have to eventually be replaced.
There are 37 mobile homes and cottages in various states of disrepair, but they're working hard to change that. Much of the repair work is being done by volunteers as well as those who will live in the community.
Although it may be a month or more before most of the new tenants begin to arrive, the first resident just moved in.
Until now, Tony Hollman has been living anywhere he could.
"It is 100% better," he said.
Seeley says the people who have been living in the park, many struggling to survive for years, are more than welcome to stay.
"It didn’t make sense to cause someone to become homeless while helping people who are homeless," he explained.
When Gospel Inc. took over it also cut the rent of existing tenants by $50 a month.
For more information about Gospel Village, visit https://gospelinc.org/.