frequently asked questions

* Type B Site Plan application has been received by the City of Tallahassee. View Plan

about city walk

who we are

City Walk is a non-denominational Christian Church on a mission to share the love of Christ Jesus with a hurting world. We are a church of the city and for the city.  We are a registered 501c3 Organization and have been serving Tallahassee since July of 2012.

What We Believe

We hold the Bible in highest authority. It is inspired by God and therefore infallible. Our worship and way of life are based solely on God’s word. (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12)

What We Do

Corporate worship is important, and we gather regularly together to serve God and minister to each other. (Hebrews 10:24-25) Just as important as gathering to worship is obedience to the commands of Jesus (Matthew 25:34-45) the apostles (Acts 2:44-47) and the prophets (Isaiah 58:6-8).Our social service work in our city is a huge part of our worship and belief system. Without taking care of ‘the least of these’ we are not fully obeying Jesus our Lord.

Our Mission

Emergency Shelter, Supportive Housing, Men’s Re-entry and Recovery Program, Case management, Food Pantry, and Clothes Closet

about our EMERGENCY SHELTER AT 1709 MAHAN DRIVE

How many people stay at the shelter?

We have 62 cots regularly set up in the lower level. An additional 30 spaces are available for overflow/cold night sheltering. 14 spaces are designated for women and the remaining cots are for men.

Are children allowed to stay at the shelter?

No. Families with children are to contact Big Bend Homeless Coalition and unaccompanied minors are to contact CCYS for emergency shelter.

What are the hours of operation?

Emergency shelter check-in starts at 6:00 pm and check out the next morning is completed by 7:00 am.

What security do you have in place?

Nightly we have several staff and volunteers for check in and dinner. After lights out we have two managers for the entire 13 hours that monitor the facility inside and out. We have cameras throughout the floors and grounds with outdoor security lighting.

Do you allow drug and alcohol use?

No. We have a strict policy on bringing substances on our property. We search belongings if there is any suspicion and remove anyone in violation.

What does ‘low barrier’ mean?

Being a low-barrier shelter means we accept people as they are and provide a safe, warm place of shelter for those who may have no other option. While some shelters may require a homeless neighbor to be sober or pass a drug test, agree to classes or mandatory participation in religious activities, we do not. Low barrier does not mean no rules and no behavioral requirements.

What are the current rules participants must abide by to remain at your shelter?

All guests must check-in between 6-8 pm. Guests must be respectful of each other, the staff, and the facility. Substances are not allowed to be brought to or used on the premises. Smoking in designated areas only. Guests are to adhere to CDC guidelines by maintaining social distancing, mask wearing, use of sanitizer.

Are registered citizens allowed to shelter there?

Anyone can come to church, day services, and other social services provided no matter their registry requirement. However, if the condition of their sentence precludes them from using the shelter portion, we cannot allow them to stay at night. We work closely with law enforcement and state probation to make sure no one is staying here in violation of the law. For more information you can contact The FDLE Sex Offender Hotline at (888) 357-7332.

How long can someone stay there?

If they are following the rules, we do not set a limit on how many nights they can stay. We are actively working with clients and other community partners to identify permanent housing options that they can transition into so they no longer need emergency shelter. Our case managers help clients make a plan for their future and help them navigate the system. Each case is different, i.e. Disability, Veteran, Elderly, etc.

Many have been accepted to other City Walk programs, and other ministries such as Good Samaritan and Mercy House, have moved to independent living or reunited with family. We believe homelessness should be a brief part of the journey to long term sustainable permanent housing.

Do clients have to leave during the day?

We were closing at 7 am and all guests needed to exit the property. However, we recently added more daytime activities to our programs in addition to religious services. We keep our bathroom facilities open in case anyone in the area finds themselves without a restroom. We are now also providing a noon meal.

Where can overnight guests of the shelter go during the day if they must leave?

Day services and indoor activities throughout our community have limited hours, closed altogether, or only let a certain number of people in at a time due to the pandemic. Those experiencing homelessness are greatly impacted by this with no other place to go. Places like libraries and daytime service centers like the Kearney Center are not available to our clientele consistently and our community should explore other options to make sure there is a place where people can go during the day.

Many go to day labor, go to apply for jobs, take classes, or to various appointments for services or medical. Those that do get jobs, still need time to save up money for permanent housing and may have barriers like cost of rent, poor credit scores or background checks.  

What are you doing to mitigate the spread of viruses?

We shelter our guests in rooms of two or three with cots of 6 or more feet apart per recommendations by the CDC and Leon County Health Department.  We enforce mask wearing among staff and guests in our facility and on our campus. We supply staff and guests with masks daily. Education about the spread of the virus is provided continuously. Hand sanitizer is given to each guest and sanitation stations are throughout common areas.  Our 4-person custodial crew sanitizes common areas between shifts. Surfaces are sprayed with biocide that kills Covid viruses. Linens are changed weekly and between each guest. We contract linen services from Alsco that launders to the temperature that kills viruses. We encourage guests to eat in their rooms or outside instead of in large groups. Covid screenings are taken at check-in, including taking of temperature, and if someone is running a fever or has had Covid symptoms they are referred for testing and on to our local isolation and quarantine hotel available through the county so that the rest of the shelter guests and community are at lower risk. 

How long will your church shelter people?

The original plan was to operate an emergency shelter from December 1, 2020 through March 31, 2021. During that time, we planned to apply for a permit for transitional housing so some of our current programs, (not emergency shelter,) could be on some of the floors at the facility in addition to our religious activities. We hope that as the pandemic eases, other agencies return to pre-pandemic service levels, and our guests rapidly attain stable housing.

Why didn’t you engage the community prior to opening?

Hindsight is 20/20. It was not malicious, it was ignorant. We did not think it was needed based on the zoning permitted use, and that community engagement is, by our City code, limited to residents within 500 feet. Engaging the greater community is a matter of etiquette, not mandate. Unfortunately, it was the unwritten etiquette we were unaware of. We now know better and we are actively engaging the area businesses and residents to find solutions to their concerns.

We toured at least 15 other available properties throughout Tallahassee, the property at 1709 Mahan was the best layout, most turnkey and most affordable for our needs. The landlords were willing to work with us and the clock was ticking as cold weather was approaching.  We believed the property was ideal because it backed up to a railroad track and did not have houses to either side.  Every property we looked at had neighbors in some general proximity, so our end-goal would have been controversial no matter the location we ended up at.

How is the City Walk Shelter Funded?

City Walk programs are funded through our thrift store operation, and private donors who support the cause of ending suffering for the most vulnerable. City Walk has never received grants or government funds to perform social services.

Why is the Kearney Center not providing housing?

Although The Kearney Center shut down their congregant shelter facility due to Covid-19, they are still providing emergency shelter to approximately 375 individuals each night at various hotels. There is a waiting list to obtain shelter in these hotel rooms. Other local shelters provide services for specific groups, such as youth, families with children or women leaving abusive situations.  If you would like to know more about other service providers in our community, please reach out to the Big Bend Continuum of Care at info@bigbendcoc.org or 850-792-5015.

Many guests of City Walk are on the waiting list for one of these Kearney Center hotel rooms. We are able to take care of them while they wait for their number to be called for said rooms. City Walk is proactively working with other area shelters and programs to fill gaps, not duplicate efforts.

Is there a difference between a cold night shelter, an emergency shelter and a temporary shelter, and what is the City Walk Shelter considered?

Emergency Shelter - Per HUD, "Emergency shelter means any facility, the primary purpose of which is to provide a temporary shelter for the homeless in general or for specific populations of the homeless and which does not require occupants to sign leases or occupancy agreements.”

Cold Night Shelter - Locally we have a cold night shelter plan with partners who have agreed to open their doors to sleep those who are otherwise unsheltered on nights where the temperature is predicted to fall to 35 degrees or below for at least 3 consecutive hours of the night. Leon County Emergency Management, Leon County Health Department and BBCoC collaboratively make the determination on the need for cold night sheltering. Partners willing to provide cold night shelter must have adequate space and have a review of their facility by the fire department and department of health specifically during COVID. CDC guidelines are followed, and recommended capacity of each location is provided based on CDC and local health department guidelines.

After partnering to provide cold night shelter services, City Walk staff and board decided that it is our religious tenet to provide more for the people that had been attending our weekly services. We felt it was our responsibility, that if we had the space, the staff and the effort to house people on cold nights, why would we leave it empty on other nights? What about rainy nights, or cold nights that are not defined at 35 degrees or below? Many of the people are elderly or disabled and need shelter. For others, the stability gives them hope. Turning them away makes them feel hopeless and desperate.  With a night’s sleep, proper clothes and a daily shower, we have seen people transformed into more positive, confident versions of themselves.

How many other Tallahassee homeless shelters are located in close proximity to established neighborhoods?

There are 4 other emergency shelters operating with in Tallahassee, all of which are in close proximity to residential areas and established neighborhoods. This has been a challenge for other neighborhoods impacted by shelter placements in the past.

Is City Walk the only low barrier shelter in our area?

No, all 4 other emergency shelters are also considered low barrier. Low-barrier means that the shelter does not require someone to be clean/sober or receiving services like mental health treatment as a precondition to obtain shelter. Not all shelters agree to accept registrants, City Walk is the only shelter that offers shelter to registered citizens. Low Barrier shelters do have rules and behavior requirements that guests must comply with to continue to utilize the facility.

What expertise does City Walk have on staff in supporting Registered Citizens?

The director of City Walk is clinically trained in psychology and social work and certified through ATSA master level courses for assessment and treatment of adult male sexual abusers. She has been working with this population since 2006.  From all the registered clients City Walk has provided housing for since 2012, none have been arrested for committing another sexual crime. Actual statistics show the recidivism rate of registered citizens committing another sex crime is 3%, and of those that reoffend, they commit the crime within 5 years of being released. Despite false public sentiment, registered citizens have one of the lowest rates of recidivism if you do not count administrative compliance such as registering phone numbers, emails, addresses, within 3 days and the other impossible burdens placed on them.

What are the rules for shelter guests and under what conditions would a guest be banned?

There are many rules, such as hygiene and cleanliness, including how many bags they are allowed to store in the facility. But to not get into the minutiae, I believe the question is geared toward more substantial behaviors.

We do not tolerate abusive behavior, whether it is physical or verbal.  If someone is obviously inebriated, we require they go to bed and rest.  If they are intoxicated to a substantial limit, we have them transported to detox at Apalachee Center, where we have seen many placed into a rehabilitative program such as Teen Challenge or Disc Village.

We have a warning system for behaviors done both inside and outside the facility.  For example, if you are caught panhandling or urinating nearby, we will issue a warning. If caught again, they will be banned from utilizing the facility.  

Once someone is banned, they typically voluntarily leave the immediate area and go back to where they were camped before they arrived at City Walk.

With regard to probation requirements and registration for offenders, what is the difference between temporary, permanent, and transient residences as reported on the registry?

Per Florida Statute, The definition of a Temporary Residence is a location a registrant abides, resides or lodges for a period of 3 days or more in the aggregate (meaning not necessarily consecutive days.) This is typically used when someone travels, has a second home, visits family often, goes out of town for work or school but maintains a permanent address elsewhere.

The definition of a Permanent Residence is a location a registrant resides for 3 or more consecutive days and is used as their permanent address, which is also required they update their drivers license or state ID to this address.  

The definition of a Transient Address is a registrant with No Fixed Address that resides in a specific County for more than 3 days.  This would be the typical registration of someone who is unsheltered and lives outdoors. They typically register at a cross streets and are expected to encamp there every night. If they move encampments, they must re-register to a new set of cross streets.

Since most clients at City Walk would be there for 3 or more consecutive nights, they would be forced to register at permanent as they do not fall into any of the other 2 categories. They need to stay in compliance with registration requirements or face felony charges. This status would also force them to update their state ID to this address, which is also a registration requirement.

about our CITY OF TALLAHASSEE PERMITTING, LAND USE, ORDINANCES AND COORDINATION

Did the City of Tallahassee issue a permit for the building to be used as a homeless shelter?

The facility began operating beyond a cold night shelter without the necessary permits to do so. The City’s Growth Management Department has been in communication with the representatives at City Walk Urban Missions to inform them of the formal permitting process required for the establishment of a shelter or other Transition Residential Facilities. Since they have now been made aware of what the required process includes, we have given them until February 4th to voluntarily comply with the City’s regulations, after which time if they are still operating illegally then the City would take the necessary code enforcement action.

At this time there have been no application items submitted for the establishment of a permanent facility at 1709 Mahan Drive. If City Walk Urban Missions does pursue the establishment of a permanent facility then that will be via our Type B Site Plan review process, for review and consideration by the City’s Development Review Committee (DRC). Transition Residential Facilities are an allowed use in any zoning district except for Industrial, but the Tallahassee Land Development Code lays out specific submittal requirements and criteria by which the application for a Transition Residential Facility is reviewed, which can be accessed at the following link: https://library.municode.com/fl/tallahassee/codes/land_development_code?nodeId=LADECO_CH10ZO_ARTVIISURE_S10-417TRREFA

The Type B Site Plan process does require public noticing and allows for public comment, where comments can be provided prior to the DRC meeting date or during a public comment period at the DRC meeting. The public noticing includes signage on the subject property, advertising in the Tallahassee Democrat and Capital Outlook, and notices mailed directly to property owners and occupants of properties within 1,000 feet of the site. It would also be published on a DRC agenda which would be posted to the City of Tallahassee website. All DRC agendas can be accessed online at the following location, where you can also subscribe to receive the agendas via email as they are posted: https://www.talgov.com/growth/growth-meetagenda.aspx

As stated, unless a Type B Site Plan application is submitted to the Growth Management Department for the establishment of a shelter at 1709 Mahan Drive, the pending code enforcement action if they do not comply by February 4th will remain in effect.

If you have any questions about the permitting process for the permanent establishment of a Transition Residential Facility then you can contact John Reddick with the Growth Management Department at (850) 891-7176 or John.Reddick@talgov.com.

Has land use been changed to allow a homeless shelter? There have not been any public meetings for a land use change.

Homeless shelters are classified as Transition Residential Facilities, which are allowed in any zoning district within the city except for Industrial. However, in order to establish a permanent Transition Residential Facility there is still a public process to do so. That process is via the submittal of a Type B Site Plan to the City’s Growth Management Department, for review and consideration by the City’s Development Review Committee (DRC). The Tallahassee Land Development Code lays out specific submittal requirements and criteria by which the application for a Transition Residential Facility is reviewed, which can be accessed at the following link: https://library.municode.com/fl/tallahassee/codes/land_development_code?nodeId=LADECO_CH10ZO_ARTVIISURE_S10-417TRREFA

The Type B Site Plan process does require public noticing and allows for public comment, where comments can be provided prior to the DRC meeting date or during a public comment period at the DRC meeting. The public noticing includes signage on the subject property, advertising in the Tallahassee Democrat and Capital Outlook, and notices mailed directly to property owners and occupants of properties within 1,000 feet of the site. It would also be published on a DRC agenda which would be posted to the City of Tallahassee website. All DRC agendas can be accessed online at the following location, where you can also subscribe to receive the agendas via email as they are posted: https://www.talgov.com/growth/growth-meetagenda.aspx

At this time there have been no application items submitted for the establishment of a permanent facility at 1709 Mahan Drive. City Staff have been in communication with the representatives at City Walk Urban Missions to inform them of the formal permitting process required for the establishment of a shelter or other Transition Residential Facilities. Since they have now been made aware of what the required process includes, we have given them until February 4th to voluntarily comply with the City’s regulations, after which time if they are still operating illegally then the City would take the necessary code enforcement action.

If you have any questions about the permitting process for the permanent establishment of a Transition Residential Facility then you can contact John Reddick with the Growth Management Department at (850) 891-7176 or John.Reddick@talgov.com.

Is the facility registered as a rooming house with the City's rooming house ordinance?

The use as a shelter facility does not classify as a rooming house, it instead is classified as a Transition Residential Facility, which is defined in the Tallahassee Land Development Code as “facilities or structures, operated, or maintained by a public or not-for-profit corporation or association, religious institution, or government-funded organization to provide shelter for homeless individuals and families on a temporary or transitional basis, with the duration of stay limited to a period not exceeding one year. Normal and customary use of a dwelling unit by a single-family is specifically excluded from the requirements of Chapter 10. Transitional residential facilities may also provide services to residents accessory to the provision of shelter, including but not limited to, dining facilities and meal preparation, and referral, counseling and educational programs.”

Transition Residential Facilities are allowed in any zoning district within the city except for Industrial. However, in order to establish a permanent Transition Residential Facility there is still a public process to do so. That process is via the submittal of a Type B Site Plan to the City’s Growth Management Department, for review and consideration by the City’s Development Review Committee (DRC). The Tallahassee Land Development Code lays out specific submittal requirements and criteria by which the application for a Transition Residential Facility is reviewed, which can be accessed at the following link: https://library.municode.com/fl/tallahassee/codes/land_development_code?nodeId=LADECO_CH10ZO_ARTVIISURE_S10-417TRREFA

The Type B Site Plan process does require public noticing and allows for public comment, where comments can be provided prior to the DRC meeting date or during a public comment period at the DRC meeting. The public noticing includes signage on the subject property, advertising in the Tallahassee Democrat and Capital Outlook, and notices mailed directly to property owners and occupants of properties within 1,000 feet of the site. It would also be published on a DRC agenda which would be posted to the City of Tallahassee website. All DRC agendas can be accessed online at the following location, where you can also subscribe to receive the agendas via email as they are posted: https://www.talgov.com/growth/growth-meetagenda.aspx

At this time there have been no application items submitted for the establishment of a permanent facility at 1709 Mahan Drive. City Staff have been in communication with the representatives at City Walk Urban Missions to inform them of the formal permitting process required for the establishment of a shelter or other Transition Residential Facilities. Since they have now been made aware of what the required process includes, we have given them until February 4th to voluntarily comply with the City’s regulations, after which time if they are still operating illegally then the City would take the necessary code enforcement action.

If you have any questions about the permitting process for the permanent establishment of a Transition Residential Facility then you can contact John Reddick with the Growth Management Department at (850) 891-7176 or John.Reddick@talgov.com.

I would like clarity on: How long the shelter intends to operate; what the city’s role is in this decision making (it was noted that the city had asked the shelter to add beds); what the vetting process is for this decision making on the use of this facility moving forward; the city’s role on siting homeless shelter.

The City does not provide direct services to homeless individuals, however they partner closely with several agencies to provide safety net and transition services, beginning with the Big Bend Continuum of Care (BBCoC), which is the primary coordinating entity for providers in our region.  Homeless shelters are operated by private nonprofit agencies and are encouraged to join BBCoC as members to participate in planning, data collection, needs assessment and strategic planning efforts lead by BBCoC.

As a result of COVID-19 mitigation efforts that meet the CDC and Leon County Health Department guidance for spatial distance, the area’s four emergency shelters had to decrease their capacity significantly. During this unprecedented season, our local community has had to respond rapidly to address emergent needs, including several new entrants into the arena of emergency sheltering.

Since March 2020, Leon County Emergency Management has engaged the City, BBCoC and other human service providers to provide temporary non-congregate and congregate emergency shelters for vulnerable neighbors. The County EM secured FEMA approval for a congregate and non-congregate sheltering plan for homeless individuals. With their respective Commission’s approval, the County and City partnered with The Salvation Army, a national leader in emergency response, to establish a homeless relief center and temporary shelter in May 2020 while the Kearney Center depopulated and transitioned to non-congregate/hotel sheltering. By September 2020, the Salvation Army site closed as the other service providers stabilized.

Since then, other organizations and local churches have recently stepped up for cold night sheltering during the pandemic. City Walk is a new member of the CoC and independently decided to assist with the growing need to serve homeless individuals during the cold season. They are not funded by the City, County, nor the BBCoC. In preparation of the County EM cold night sheltering operations, the City provided use of the portable showers and cots that we previously used at the Salvation Army site for EM/BBCoC use with a cold night shelter partner. These emergency shelters are temporary and in direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic and cold night weather emergencies. The continued operation of any shelter will require appropriate land use and permitting approvals.

The local cold night shelter operations are enacted through coordination between Leon County EM, National Weather Service, Leon County Health Department and BBCoC. Cold Night Shelter becomes available when a night is predicted to have 35 degree weather or lower for 3 consecutive hours of the night.

With regards to the permanent establishment of a facility moving forward and the City’s role, shelter operations are classified as Transition Residential Facilities in the Tallahassee Land Development Code and are allowed in any zoning district except for Industrial. However, in order to establish a permanent Transition Residential Facility like the one proposed, there is still a public process to do so. That process is via the submittal of a Type B Site Plan to the City’s Growth Management Department, for review and consideration by the City’s Development Review Committee (DRC). The Tallahassee Land Development Code lays out specific submittal requirements and criteria by which the application for a Transition Residential Facility is reviewed, which can be accessed at the following link: https://library.municode.com/fl/tallahassee/codes/land_development_code?nodeId=LADECO_CH10ZO_ARTVIISURE_S10-417TRREFA

The Type B Site Plan process requires public noticing and allows for public comment, where comments can be provided prior to the DRC meeting date or during a public comment period at the DRC meeting. The public noticing includes signage on the subject property, advertising in the Tallahassee Democrat and Capital Outlook, and notices mailed directly to property owners and occupants of properties within 1,000 feet of the site. It would also be published on a DRC agenda which would be posted to the City of Tallahassee website. All DRC agendas can be accessed online at the following location, where you can also subscribe to receive the agendas via email as they are posted: https://www.talgov.com/growth/growth-meetagenda.aspx  

At this time there have been no application items submitted for the establishment of a permanent facility at 1709 Mahan Drive. City Staff have been in communication with the representatives at City Walk Urban Missions to inform them of the formal permitting process required for the establishment of a shelter or other Transition Residential Facilities. Since they have now been made aware of what the required process includes, City Walk has until February 4th to voluntarily comply with the City’s regulations, after which time if they are still operating illegally then the City would take the necessary code enforcement action.  

If you have any questions about the permitting process for the permanent establishment of a Transition Residential Facility then you can contact John Reddick with the Growth Management Department at (850) 891-7176 or John.Reddick@talgov.com.

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