Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

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

New housing program offers hope to the homeless 06/02/14 [Last modified: Monday, June 2, 2014 9:18pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Dade City's Wild Things blocks PETA officials at gates for court-ordered site inspection


    Times Staff Writer

    DADE CITY — Dade City's Wild Things founder Kathy Stearns refused to let People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals officials enter her facility on Thursday for a court-ordered inspection, court filings show.

    Dade City's Wild Things founder Kathy Stearns refused to let People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals officials enter her facility on Thursday for a court-ordered inspection, court filings show. This comes four days after 19 Wild Things tigers arrived at the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma. A judge had granted an emergency injunction July 14, ordering Stearns not remove any tigers pending the upcoming PETA inspection. Photo from Facebook page of the Greater Wynnewood Exotic Animal Park in Oklahoma.
  2. St. Petersburg City Council approves $326 million sewage fix


    ST. PETERSBURG — Last week the City Council learned no criminal charges would result from the up to 200 million gallons of sewage St. Petersburg's sewer system released from …

    [LARA CERRI  |  Times]
  3. Pasco commuters watch out: Broken water main restricts State Road 52

    Public Safety

    NEW PORT RICHEY — A water main break has caused a portion of State Road 52 — one of the busiest roads in Pasco County — to buckle on Thursday afternoon, reducing three lanes of westbound traffic to just one.

  4. Man taken into custody after live streaming drive along Clearwater Beach sand

    Public Safety

    CLEARWATER — Clearwater Police took a man into custody Thursday afternoon after, they said, he drove his car over beach chairs and umbrellas along Clearwater Beach and streamed it on Facebook.

    Clearwater Police took a suspect into custody Thursday afternoon after he drove along Clearwater Beach to Caladesi Island, running over beach chairs and umbrellas. [Courtesy of Clearwater Police]
  5. Once trapped and wounded, manatee and calf return to the wild


    NEW PORT RICHEY — The small crowd readied cameras and craned their necks, peering over heads and through bodies to try and catch a glimpse. Brittany Pharel, 10, wanted to see the hulking manatees, a mother and her calf, laid out on blue tarps Thursday along the edge of the Pithlachascotee River.

    Tampa's Lowry Park Zoo's associate veterinarian Lauren Smith, 33, examines the heart rate of a manatee calf named Cottee just before it was released into the waters of the Pithlachascotee River on Thursday. 
Cottee's mother Pascow was released at the same time in New Port Richey. 
The pair became stranded in May and the mother was found wounded. They needed to be rehabilitated before they could be released into open waters. [ALESSANDRA DA PRA  |   Times]