Monday, December 11, 2017
News Roundup

Hillsborough health fair connects homeless with dozens of service groups

YBOR CITY — A few months ago, Haiden Larson found himself unexpectedly homeless.

The 18-year-old had recently moved from Massachusetts to Florida to stay with his dad. Things didn't work out and Larson had nowhere to go.

"I had always lived in a middle-class family," he said. "Moving from that to having absolutely nothing was earth-shattering."

Roaming Tampa for three months, he felt invisible.

"People look at you like you're nothing when you live on the street," he said, "like you don't exist."

Now, things have changed. And he says it's because he asked for help.

On Saturday, dozens of organizations came together to offer services to those in similar situations. The Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County held its annual homeless health fair event at Hillsborough Community College's Ybor City campus.

"It's important because for homeless or low-income individuals to be able to access all these services, they would have to drive or take a bus all over the county," said Lesa Weikel, a spokeswoman for the Homeless Coalition.

"This makes it a one-stop shop," she said.

Showers and haircuts were available, as well as legal consultations, housing assistance and educational resources.

It's a need that is great, Weikel said.

About 18,000 homeless people live in Hillsborough, she said, with about 7,300 of those on the streets.

John Story III, 28, has been homeless for the past year.

He came Saturday hoping to find help obtaining a Florida driver's license. A lot of jobs require him to have it, he said.

"I made some bad decisions," he said. "And I'm just trying to get off the streets."

Gloria Montez, 48, spent many years living on the streets and served prison time for prostitution charges, she said. When she got out a few years ago, she said, she changed her life.

She splits time between her mother's home and her daughter's. Without a home of her own, she is still considered homeless.

She came Saturday looking for help with that.

"This has helped big time," she said, "because one of the ladies I spoke with informed me about a place I may be able to rent."

About 600 people were expected to attend Saturday's event, Weikel said.

More than 50 organizations and 150 volunteers helped make it happen.

Lawyers from Bay Area Legal Services helped people with legal problems ranging from domestic violence to housing discrimination.

"Sometimes people don't even know we exist," said lawyer John Salgado. "And that we offer basically free services for low-income individuals."

For Larson, the event was an opportunity to learn more about permanent housing options.

He stays at Covenant House of Tampa, a transitional housing program that provides help to men, women and children as they move from homelessness to independence.

He is finishing his high school education and working on computers while considering what his next step will be.

He appreciated the organizations that came together to lend support.

"People are willing to help," Larson said, "as long as you are willing to help yourself."

Shelley Rossetter can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2442.

Comments
Veteran 3B Evan Longoria as uncertain as anyone about Rays’ plans

Veteran 3B Evan Longoria as uncertain as anyone about Rays’ plans

LAKE BUENA VISTA — Uncertain with all the talk about potentially rebuilding if the Rays would go as far as trading franchise cornerstone 3B Evan Longoria?So is he."I don’t know what to think, really,’’ Longoria said via text message Sunday night as t...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Sunny day floods become new norm

WASHINGTON — The tide watchers start patrolling whenever the celestial forces align. From coast to coast, hundreds of tide watchers come out with their cameras to record the latest ‘‘king tides,’’ brief episodes of tidal flooding that could become th...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Tiny snowmen appear in Florida as Sunshine State gets snow

Tiny snowmen appear in Florida as Sunshine State gets snow

The "Welcome to Florida" sign in the northwest part of the state was covered in light snow as winter weather dipped into the Sunshine State. It was part of a winter storm that hit the Deep South over the weekend and left thousands of people without p...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Florida professional wrestler arrested, charged with battery of his wife, also a professional wrestler

Florida professional wrestler arrested, charged with battery of his wife, also a professional wrestler

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Wrestler Rich Swann is being held without bail in a Florida jail after he was arrested and charged with battery and false imprisonment. Swann, who is 26 and a former WWE cruiserweight champion, was arrested Saturday. According to ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Updated: 6 hours ago
Getting around Cuban customs control

Getting around Cuban customs control

HAVANA, CUBA — Ernesto Machado will never forget that cold morning in 1968 at José Martí International Airport in Havana, when an immigration official seized his parents’ gold wedding bands and ripped up his passport."This is property of the revoluti...
Updated: 6 hours ago
FSU beats Tulane in Tampa, stays unbeaten in basketball

FSU beats Tulane in Tampa, stays unbeaten in basketball

Updated: 7 hours ago
Struggling Florida citrus growers face tough decisions

Struggling Florida citrus growers face tough decisions

WINTER HAVEN — Although the 2017-18 citrus harvest has barely begun, growers are already planning for the 2018-19 season, and they have critical decisions to make in the coming months that will affect next season’s crop and perhaps others in years to...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bucs-Lions journal: Backup lineman was most unlikely of targets

Bucs-Lions journal: Backup lineman was most unlikely of targets

TAMPA — The Bucs’ unlikely comeback to erase a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter was capped by the most unlikely of targets. Tampa Bay tied the game when Jameis Winston threw a 2-yard pass to 305-pound Leonard Wester, a backup lineman who lined ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
New normal: Firefighting at Christmas; U.S. homeless population increases 1st time since 2010; Athletes, celebrities rally for bullied boy; more in U.S. news

New normal: Firefighting at Christmas; U.S. homeless population increases 1st time since 2010; Athletes, celebrities rally for bullied boy; more in U.S. news

CaliforniaNew normal: Christmas firefightingA flare-up on the western edge of Southern California’s largest and most destructive wildfire sent residents fleeing Sunday. Fire crews saved several homes as unpredictable gusts sent the blaze churning dee...
Updated: 8 hours ago