Melbourne City Council Approves Land for Affordable Housing Complex, Daily Bread to Close Downtown Soup Kitchen
In a recent meeting, Melbourne City Council voted in favor of granting three acres of land off Sarno Road to the nonprofit organization Daily Bread. This decision allows Daily Bread to proceed with their plans to construct a 120-unit affordable housing complex called Province Place. The new complex, estimated to cost between $15-20 million, aims to provide affordable housing options and essential social services to its residents.
As part of this development, Daily Bread will be closing down their downtown soup kitchen and day shelter located on Fee Avenue. The closure is a firm decision, with the City Council and Daily Bread’s executive director, Jeffrey Njus, emphasizing that there will be no soup kitchen or day shelter for the homeless at the forthcoming Sarno Road apartments.
The construction of Province Place is expected to be completed by the end of 2026. This marks a significant milestone for Daily Bread, as they have been striving for years to enter the housing market and offer transitional and other types of homes to individuals who have experienced homelessness.
The chosen location for the housing complex received preference over an alternative proposal by Mark Pieloch, the owner of the American Muscle Car Museum. Pieloch had offered to purchase the land for $250,000 to develop a dog park. The site of the proposed housing complex is situated across the street from the museum.
Province Place will not only provide housing but also accommodate wholesale food warehouse operations and house administrative offices. However, it will not include a soup kitchen or walk-up services. Instead, the services available will be exclusively offered to the residents of the apartment complex as part of Daily Bread’s new mission focus.
The decision to donate the vacant 3-acre Sarno Road parcel to Daily Bread for the project was made through a 5-1 vote in favor by the City Council. The land was acquired by the city through a 2010 settlement agreement without any expenditure of funds.
Some members of the public expressed disapproval, concerned that moving homeless services away from downtown towards suburban areas may negatively impact the community. However, Melbourne Mayor Paul Alfrey stressed that affordable housing was the topmost priority for the community.
While Councilwoman Mimi Hanley voted against the project, citing the need to consider alternative proposals, the majority of the Council supported Daily Bread’s efforts. Jeffrey Njus, the executive director of Daily Bread, expressed gratitude for the Council’s support and highlighted how Province Place would benefit those in need of housing.
Njus emphasized the organization’s shift towards a housing focus, as shown by the decrease in numbers at Daily Bread in recent years. He stated that when people are provided with housing, the need for a day shelter or soup kitchen diminishes. Province Place is seen as the next logical step in fulfilling Daily Bread’s mission.
Important points to note about Daily Bread’s new approach include the possibility of Council members awarding $3 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funding for Providence Place. Furthermore, Daily Bread will discontinue all operations at their Fee Avenue soup kitchen and day shelter within 60 days of Providence Place’s certificate of occupancy. The organization also plans to sell its Fee Avenue properties. Lastly, Province Place will offer affordable housing to households with income at or below 80% of the average median income for a minimum of 50 years.
In conclusion, the Melbourne City Council’s decision to grant land to Daily Bread for the construction of the Province Place affordable housing complex marks a significant achievement for the organization. The closing of their downtown soup kitchen is a strategic move towards their new housing focus. This project will not only benefit individuals in need of housing but also contribute to the larger community’s welfare. With construction expected to finish by the end of 2026, Daily Bread is taking a significant step forward in their mission to combat homelessness and provide essential social services.