Church on the Rock pastor James Bellino wants the church to serve as a shelter day-to-day.
Flagler County officials are currently collaborating with Church on the Rock in Bunnell to help the community’s homeless population.
The Palm Coast Observer reported on March 6 that county officials contemplated working with the church as a place to relocate the homeless living in the woods behind the Flagler County Public Library while brush and debris were being cleared. However, that discussion stalled because it would have violated Bunnell’s city codes.
Members of the Public Safety Coordinating Council discussed the progress that has been made at Church on the Rock at the council’s latest meeting on the morning of Wednesday, April 17.
County Commissioner Joe Mullins, who initially told the Observer that he believed churches were “enabling” the homeless situation, further clarified his position on the matter.
“I’d like to solve our problem — not move it around," he said. “Without everybody at the table working on a true solution, the cycle is going to continue."
Mullins, Interim County Administrator Jerry Cameron and Palm Coast City Councilman Jack Howell all said they have been in contact with Church of the Rock pastor James Bellino to help coordinate a plan.
“You’ve got to have a plan, or you plan to fail,” Howell said.
Church on the Rock has assisted the area’s homeless population for years, providing food, clothes, showers and more, but the goal is to expand those services, Bellino said during a phone interview with the Observer on Friday, April 19.
He wants the church to serve as a shelter day-to-day.
“That’s really what we’re after at this point,” he said. “We’re continuing the services that we had, but we’re enhancing them.”
However, the church still needs the approval from the city of Bunnell’s mayor and vice mayor, which Cameron addressed at the public safety meeting. The church wants to be able to accommodate up to 30 people and requires minor renovations to be up to code.
“The county can’t get into the business of subsidizing something that’s a violation of a municipality’s ordinances,” he said.