Against the recommendation of city staff, city commissioners unanimously voted for the Alachua County Coalition of the Homeless and Hungry to continue running Grace Marketplace.

On Thursday evening, the City Commission reviewed two proposals for possible managers of homeless shelter Grace Marketplace, one by the current provider, the ACCHH and the other by the Grace Marketplace Charitable Support Foundation. In a room packed with concerned citizens and homeless people, the Commission voted to renew the contract with the current provider. The city will ask the county to pass an identical motion in a joint meeting Monday.

Although city staff ranked the Grace Marketplace Charitable Support Foundation’s proposal first, commissioners feared the planned staff of 15 would be too small, the finances were unrealistic and the organization was inexperienced.

“I don’t know that I’m convinced that the first position that’s been ranked by staff is really going to deliver the vision that I see for homeless services here in Alachua County,” Commissioner David Arreola said.

Abigail Perret-Gentil, who manages the Grace Marketplace community garden, attended the meeting to support the ACCHH and the work they are already doing to help the homeless, she said.

“The people out there are precious, and they are in one of the most vulnerable situations that a person can be in,” she said. “We know that the coalition has done a really good job.”

Contact Jessica Giles at jgiles@alligator.org. Follow her on Twitter at @jessica_giles_.

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