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First homeless shelter opens in Fort Walton Beach

First homeless shelter opens in Fort Walton Beach

Wednesday marked a big milestone for Fort Walton Beach. One Hopeful Place, the first homeless shelter in the city opened its doors.

The ribbon cutting brought churches, non-profits, city and state government together for a project 50 years in the making.

Several hundred people attended the ceremony for the shelter. It's a big step for area non-profits.

"Anyone who comes to our town will understand that Fort Walton Beach and Okaloosa County is a welcoming organization doing all we can to help those who are less fortunate," said Ted Corcoran of the Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce.

Funding from the state, to the tune of $300,000 helped make the dream a reality.

City and state officials believe by removing blight and moving homeless out of tourism-reliant downtown it could help business as well.

"It kills two birds with one stone," State Rep. Matt Gaetz said, "It helps our economic development but it's also morally the right thing to do for the vulnerable."

When the project is complete it will be able to house 42 people full time and 100 people in cold weather situations.

The work is not done, the expansion into phase two will take place as soon as money is available.

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