Friday, April 20, 2018
News Roundup

New housing program offers hope to the homeless

TAMPA — Three months ago, when she was homeless, Danielle Price would wake up in the front seat of her car and check her baby for bugbites.

At the time, she was struggling with alcohol. She was sleeping in random parking lots, alienated from her oldest son, Mason. She was afraid that child protection services would take Maddox, her 6-month-old.

Price, 28, finally sought refuge at Hope Hall, a $1.2 million partnership between Hillsborough County and Metropolitan Ministries. Completed May 1, the program provides free emergency short-term housing for 48 families and single women.

It comes in the wake of embarrassing revelations last year about the county's Homeless Recovery program, which for years funneled millions of public dollars to slum owners while placing families in unsafe living conditions. The Tampa Bay Times received a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the program, and its eventual shutdown by the county.

A roomful of officials gathered Monday at Metropolitan Ministries for a tour of the new facilities. They listened to Price's story and applauded the nonprofit's breadth of resources, which include GED classes, a guaranteed three meals a day and workforce preparation.

County Commissioner Sandy Murman acknowledged the Housing Recovery debacle, which she coined the "dark cloud" hanging over homeless services in Hillsborough County. She said Hope Hall will be a "bright light" that restores confidence among families trying to get back on their feet.

"It's really going to take us forward," Murman said. "This partnership is going to enable people to do so many things."

Tim Marks, president and CEO of Metropolitan Ministries, said tenants can stay at Hope Hall for up to four months. He said several factors will keep the program high-quality: 24-hour staffers, counseling and child care, case workers who help families locate new jobs and housing.

Despite being short-term housing, Hope Hall should generate healthy outcomes, Marks said. If families need more time, they can graduate to Uplift U, a program that allows families to stay another six to nine months.

"What we're finding," Marks said, "is that one year after leaving that program, 97 percent are living in stable housing."

After three weeks living in room 156 at Hope Hall, Price said she's already noticed a difference. She found work at the Salvation Army near University Mall and stopped abusing alcohol. She communicates regularly with her sons. Once she nails down housing, she plans on leaving the center as soon as next week.

"All I'm waiting for," Price said, "is my bus card."

Zack Peterson can be reached at (813) 226-3446 or [email protected]

Comments
St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

St. Petersburg police remove disabled adults from ‘deplorable’ assisted living facilities

ST. PETERSBURG — Beef jerky, mayonnaise and Altoids mints were the only edible things in view inside one of the houses. There was no running water. The refrigerator was empty. A bed sat on top of the deteriorating living room floor. Cigarette butts b...
Updated: 5 hours ago

High school scoreboard for April 19

Thursday’s scoreboardBaseballDixie Hollins 8, Canterbury 0Northeast 13, Lakewood 3Calvary Christian 5, Berkeley Prep 2
Updated: 5 hours ago
Firefighters battle apartment complex fire in Tampa

Firefighters battle apartment complex fire in Tampa

TAMPA — Firefighters were battling a blaze at Captiva Club Apartments on Thursday night, according to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office.According to video taken at the scene, the roof of one of the apartment buildings at 4401 Club Captiva Dr. ...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Two Florida deputies shot, killed at restaurant in Gilchrist County

Two Florida deputies shot, killed at restaurant in Gilchrist County

Two Gilchrist County sheriff’s deputies were shot and killed at a restaurant about 3 p.m. Thursday.The deputies were at Ace China restaurant in downtown Trenton when a man shot them through the restaurant’s window, a Sheriff’s Office statement said.A...
Updated: 7 hours ago
The St. Pete Pier takes another step forward

The St. Pete Pier takes another step forward

ST. PETERSBURG — Development of the city’s long-awaited pier advanced another step Thursday.The City Council approved a $15 million construction contract and additional money to design a waterside restaurant, build a playground and ferret out naming ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Out early: Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

Out early: Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

TAMPA — How good can the Bucs be in 2018? Fans will get a good sense in the first three weeks, as Tampa Bay opens the year with three of its toughest games, all against reigning division champions.The Bucs open 2018 in New Orleans on Sept. 9 at...
Updated: 8 hours ago
FHP: Distracted driver plunges more than 50 feet off I-275

FHP: Distracted driver plunges more than 50 feet off I-275

ST. PETERSBURG — A distracted driver walked away unscathed after his car plunged 50 feet off Interstate 275, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.Thomas Highhouse, 61, of Pinellas Park, was driving his 2016 Chevrolet Camaro south on Interstate 275...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Lightning’s Hedman a Norris finalist again

Lightning’s Hedman a Norris finalist again

The Lightning's Victor Hedman is a finalist for the second consecutive year for the Norris Trophy, given to the top defenseman in the league. The other two finalists are Drew Doughty of the Kings and P.K. Subban of the Predators, it was announced Thu...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Police: Knife-wielding burglar breaks into house, says ‘I’m the cops’

Police: Knife-wielding burglar breaks into house, says ‘I’m the cops’

LARGO — Detectives are seeking the public’s help in identifying a man who broke into a home early Thursday morning and confronted the owners with a knife.The incident took place about 3:40 a.m. at a townhouse at 7360 Ulmerton Road, according to Largo...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Deputies: Man broke into house, set it on fire and stole their dog

Deputies: Man broke into house, set it on fire and stole their dog

SEMINOLE — A Seminole man was arrested on allegations that he burglarized a home, set it on fire and stole the homeowner’s dog, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Austin Lang, 19, now faces numerous charges of burglary, arson and poss...
Updated: 9 hours ago