Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Motel deluged with offers to help families on brink of homelessness

Valerie Drinkwater and Deansya Manning, both 6, play in the parking lot of St. Petersburg’s Mosley Motel, which has become home to many families without a place of their own.


Valerie Drinkwater and Deansya Manning, both 6, play in the parking lot of St. Petersburg’s Mosley Motel, which has become home to many families without a place of their own.

The phone has been ringing incessantly at the Mosley Motel since Sunday, said motel manager Rena Mosley Burgess.

Ever since the plight of families living in motels ran in the St. Petersburg Times on Sunday, the motel has been overwhelmed with offers of support for families there.

A doctor's office offered to provide a gift for each child and serve families food on Christmas. An anonymous donor asked the Mosley to choose a family once a week and he would pay for their stay. An older woman drove over from Tampa and said she wanted to bake the children cookies. She admitted that she was homeless once, too. A church group brought over jars of peanut butter, Hamburger Helper and canned beans and left them at the front desk.

"It has been overwhelming," Burgess said. "It's showing that (the Mosley) is not just about drugs and prostitution. It's about families trying to make it."

The story explored the lives of two families trying to survive on the cusp of homelessness by living in motels, many of which are now on school bus routes.

In August, family homeless shelters in Pinellas County turned away 495 families, including 1,000 children, because they didn't have room.

Sarah K. Snyder, executive director of the Pinellas County Coalition for the Homeless, said the county has only 218 emergency shelter beds in 60 apartments for families with children — less than half of what is needed.

Laurie Hathaway, the mother of 4-year-old Andre, profiled in the Times story, recently moved into a family shelter, Religious Community Services Inc.'s Grace House in Clearwater.

Before she got into the shelter two weeks ago, Laurie was living at the Mosley Motel with her son and her mother, struggling to come up with the cash to stay at the motel.

Lots of people have called the Times wanting to help Laurie and the other families at the Mosley. A University of South Florida English teacher wanted to start a book drive to take books to the children there. About two dozen people offered to send cash to her and other families at the Mosley.

"Rather than give gifts to one another we'd like to find some people and help them to make their rent for however long," said Linda Baez, a retired marriage and family therapist from St. Petersburg.

But several callers blamed Laurie, a waitress and a cab driver, and her mother for their plight.

"I don't know what it would be like to have to live like that," one reader said. "They must have done something wrong to get like that."

Laurie, 29, said this week she is trying to get a second job. She still works as a waitress on a dinner cruise though she's not getting as many hours as she would like.

She had to return her cab when her mother had a breakdown and could no longer provide child care. But now in the shelter, her mother is doing better and trying to get a job herself.

There are no cabs available right now but Laurie has put in for one again.

She's also applying for other jobs, including as an auto parts delivery driver.

She also heard this week from an organization that provides assistance with rent down payments to families in need.

"I'm excited to find out what that's about," she said.

Times Staff Writer Leonora LaPeter Anton can be reached at [email protected]

How to help

Send donations to the Pinellas County Coalition for the Homeless, 5180 62nd Ave. N, Pinellas Park, FL 33781.

Please be sure your address and a telephone number appear on your check. Your donation helps to maintain the operations of PCCH. You may also designate your gift for the Homeless Leadership Network, the Pinellas Cannot Forget Fund or a special project PCCH has undertaken (e.g. homeless count, blanket drive, etc.).

Donations may also be made to the following organizations, which provide shelter for families in the Tampa Bay area:

• ASAP Homeless Services Inc., 423 11th Ave S., St. Petersburg, FL 33701, or go to

• Religious Community Services Inc. Grace House, 503 S Martin Luther King Jr. Ave., Clearwater, FL 33756, or go to

• YWCA of Tampa Bay, 655 Second Ave. S, St. Petersburg, FL 33701, or go to

• Homeless Emergency Project, 1120 N Betty Lane, Clearwater, FL 33755, or go to

• Metropolitan Ministries Inc., 2002 N Florida Ave., Tampa, FL 33602, or go to

Motel deluged with offers to help families on brink of homelessness 11/29/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 29, 2011 11:09pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Florida woman weighing 325 pounds charged with killing girl by sitting on her


    PENSACOLA — A 325-pound (150-kilogram) Florida woman is charged with killing her 9-year-old cousin by sitting on the child as punishment.

    This Oct. 14, 2017 photo made available by the Escambia County Sheriff's Office, Fla., shows Veronica Green Posey under arrest. Posey is charged with killing her 9-year-old cousin by sitting on the child as punishment. Posey, who weighs 325 pounds, first punished the girl with a ruler and metal pipe before sitting on her for at least 10 minutes. [Escambia County Sheriff's Office via AP]
  2. Girl, 8, got on 'tippy toes' to peer over cruise ship railing, then fell to her death


    MIAMI — A family cruise to paradise turned into a nightmare on Saturday, when an 8-year-old tumbled over the inner railings of a ship and fell to her death.

    Friends and family mourn Zion Smith, the 8-year-old girl who fell to her death aboard a Carnival cruise in Miami this weekend. [Image from Facebook]
  3. Bucs Cannon Fodder podcast: Looking back at what went wrong


    In his latest Cannon Fodder podcast, Greg Auman says Monday brought good news relating to Jameis Winston's shoulder injury.

    A frustrated Mike Evans sits on the bench during the second half of the Bucs' loss to the Cardinals Sunday in Arizona. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]
  4. Syrian commander says Raqqa has been captured from militants


    BEIRUT — U.S.-backed Syrian forces liberated the city of Raqqa on Tuesday from Islamic State militants, a senior commander said, in a major defeat for the collapsing extremist group that had proclaimed it to be the capital of its "caliphate."

    This frame grab from video released Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 and provided by Furat FM, a Syrian Kurdish activist-run media group, shows Syrian Islamic State group fighters who surrendered entering a base of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), in Raqqa, Syria. A spokesman for the SDF in Syria says it will be in control of the northern city of Raqqa "within a few days" after attacking the last pocket held by the Islamic State group. SDF fighters launched an operation to retake the last IS-held pocket of Raqqa after some 275 militants and their family members surrendered. [Furat FM via AP]
  5. Drug czar nominee Marino withdraws name amid report he weakened DEA


    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Tuesday that his nominee to be the nation's drug czar is withdrawing from consideration for the job.

    U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pa., left, sponsored the law that weakened the DEA's enforcement abilities. Seen with Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-S.C., in 2015, Marino is nominated to be the nation's drug czar. [Andrew Harrer | Bloomberg]