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www.hud.gov/florida For Release
May 16, 2008


Jacksonville’s Clara White Mission called a model by HUD and American Planning Association

JACKSONVILLE – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) presented the 2007 HUD Secretary’s Opportunity and Empowerment Award for excellence in planning to Ju’Coby Pittman-Peele, the Director of the Clara White Mission at the Mission’s “Miracle on Ashley Street” event today in recognition of the Mission’s aggressive plan to provide permanent housing solutions for chronically homeless individuals and families. In presenting the Secretary’s Award, one of only two made nationwide this year, HUD’s Jacksonville Field Office Director, Nick Shelley, said, “We are very proud of the Mission’s work,” adding, “There could not be a more appropriate choice for this HUD Secretary’s Award.”

[Photo 1: Outside of Clara White Center]

For the past 11 years, HUD and the American Planning Association (APA) have recognized model programs which improve employment, education, housing opportunities, mobility and the standard of living for lower income persons. The HUD Secretary’s Award to the Clara White Mission specifically recognizes the nonprofit organization’s work to create a diverse network of public and private funding sources including the Jacksonville Economic Development Commission, the Jessie Ball DuPont Fund, the Duval County Housing Finance Authority and the Florida Department of Children and Families. More specifically, the Mission was recognized for transforming an old soup kitchen into a 36-unit facility that provides affordable housing, job training, child care, and a variety of other personal and family services. Last January, HUD awarded the Mission a renewal grant of $132,000.

HUD’s Deputy Secretary Roy A. Bernardi said, “The Clara White Mission proves that good planning can improve the lives of people and their program recognizes that good minds, working together, have a real impact on the lives of people who might otherwise be living on our streets.”

The HUD Secretary’s 2007 HUD Secretary's Opportunity and Empowerment Award was initially announced on April 29, 2008, during the American Planning Association’s (APA) National Planning Conference in Las Vegas, NV but was locally presented on the occasion of The Mission’s annual “Miracle on Ashley Street” event where corporate and community leaders serve a gourmet lunch to the homeless and community guests prepared by area restaurants, Clara White culinary students and features another of its innovative programs – its four-month culinary program that teaches food preparation, baking and cooking, as well as front-of-the-house service training. Students prepare meals that are served daily at the mission and also work as part of the mission's catering service.

Clara White Mission

The Clara White Mission is a private, nonprofit organization founded in 1904 to “preserve both the humanity and heritage of our community through the provision of services, housing and training to the homeless and disadvantaged.” The mission is a key local partner in a national effort to ending long-term homelessness for persons living with a chronic condition such as mental illness, addiction or a physical disability. The mission’s work in Jacksonville’s blighted areas employs an integrated approach by guaranteeing permanent housing, on-site training, substance abuse counseling and mental health services. The mission gives priority to homeless veterans seeking housing and employment assistance.

  • To date, 139 homeless persons have graduated from the Mission’s vocational training programs and more than 100 were placed in jobs within 60 days of graduation. In addition, the program has helped nearly half of its enrollees find permanent housing.
  • In addition to transitional housing with supportive services, the Mission serves a variety of community needs including vocational training, case management, life skills training, a drop-in center for veterans (75%) and other (25%) homeless males, and giving priority to ex-offenders among other homeless. The Mission’s goal is to move them to permanent housing and independent living by the end of 24 months. The Mission provides a daily meal program and a prevention program for at-risk youth.

Everyday, the Clara White Mission helps Jacksonville’s homeless gain hopeful, new perspectives in restoring their lives. Their daily meals, drop-in center, job training, job placement programs, housing and youth services, are all the first steps of a second chance.


HUD is the nation’s housing agency committed to increasing homeownership, particularly among minorities; creating affordable housing opportunities for low-income Americans; and supporting the homeless, elderly, people with disabilities and people living with AIDS. The Department also promotes economic and community development and enforces the nation's fair housing laws. More information about HUD and its programs is available on the Internet at www.hud.gov and espanol.hud.gov.

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