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"A SAFE PLACE" Homeless shelter for women and children breaks ground in Fort Myers

The shelter, a partnership between St. Matthew's House and Next Level Church, will serve 300 women and children annually.
Homeless Shelter Groundbreaking
Posted at 12:09 PM, Jan 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-16 12:53:18-05

FORT MYERS, Fla. — On a wet and gloomy day in Fort Myers, there’s a feeling of hope in the air.

Tuesday served as the official groundbreaking for the Fort Myers Women and Children’s Shelter, a partnership between St. Matthew’s House and Next Level Church.

The shelter, which is expected to serve nearly 300 residents annually, is the first homeless shelter in southwest Florida exclusively serving women and children.

“A shelter like this can give women and children stability. The ability to get back on their feet,” said Matt Keller, Senior Pastor at Next Level Church.

The facility, located on Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. will provide 11 private family rooms and 28 beds for women and children.

Keller says that demographic was chosen because of the changing face of homelessness.

“Women who are working two jobs for minimum wage, trying to pay their bills, with rent increasing, with inflation, and now with the Hurricane, women are living in their cars, living under a bridge. And that’s why this matters,” Keller said.

Homelessness has surged recently, a 12% increase nationwide in 2023.

But the numbers in southwest Florida are worse than the state and national numbers.

In Collier County, homelessness skyrocketed by 52% in 2023, compared to the year before.

“We want to make sure that they feel safe,” said Steve Brooder, CEO of St. Matthew’s House.
“That there’s the right type of help to get them back on their feet and keep the family together.”