Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Plan for homeless enclave near Tampa moves forward

TAMPA — Surprising many, Hillsborough County commissioners voted Tuesday morning to figure out a way to make the controversial tent city proposal submitted by Catholic Charities happen.

In a 5-2 vote, commissioners directed the county staff to review county law and define the conditions needed for the project's approval.

Currently, the plan doesn't meet a slew of requirements.

"We have 10,000 homeless, the highest of anyone in the state," said Commissioner Rose Ferlita. "Catholic Charities has offered us the vehicle to do something."

Catholic Charities hopes to rezone 12 acres owned by the Diocese of St. Petersburg as a campground for temporary emergency housing for up to 250 homeless people. The land is near the intersection of E Hillsborough Avenue and Harney Road.

The plan calls for a mix of tents and small dwellings, called casitas, for use up to 90 days at a time. Catholic Charities intends for the project to mirror its other tent city, Pinellas Hope, across the bay near Pinellas Park.

In Hillsborough County, the nonprofit group says it could provide food, a safe place to sleep, and access to services and caseworkers for up to 1,000 people a year. The site, the only one being offered for use by the diocese, is an ideal spot because it's along a bus route and close to potential jobs, its backers say.

"We were concerned about what was going to happen, but this is a step in the right direction," said Rayme Nuckles, chief executive of the Hillsborough Homeless Coalition.

Those against the proposal threatened a lawsuit after Tuesday's decision. Residents and business owners said they fear decreased property values and increased crime.

"What they're proposing is illegal," said Hal Hart, who lives in the nearby East Lake Park subdivision. "We're not going down without a fight."

Commissioners are expected to discuss the findings Aug. 11.

Plan for homeless enclave near Tampa moves forward 07/21/09 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 21, 2009 2:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Commentary: Ten years later, the iPhone owns us


    Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone in January, 2007, before an adoring congregation, in his signature "Sermon on the Mount" style. On June 29, it became available to the public. Ten years later, the phone has spread like Christianity. The device represents "the pinnacle product of all capitalism," as Brian Merchant …

    Apple is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the iPhone's release on June 29, 2007. [Associated Press]
  2. Florida education news: School grades, teacher pay, transgender lawsuit and more


    SCHOOL GRADES: Florida's school grades showed improvement as the state's revised accountability system entered its third year in its current form. …

    Bear Creek Elementary principal Willette Houston celebrates her school's A grade with students in a summer program at the school.
  3. Whiskey wasn't my thing, but then I visited the Teeling Distillery in Ireland



    If you drink your way through a four-day trip to Ireland, can you make an honest recommendation on anything?

    The focal point of the Teeling Whiskey Distillery in Dublin is the copper pots used in the process.
  4. Faulty AC leaves Chinsegut manor house, supporters steaming

    Human Interest


    As summer temperatures climb, volunteers at Chinsegut Hill Manor House say a faulty air-conditioning system has put them in a hot spot.

    Thomas Hoops of Tampa, left, takes a breather with his 1-year-old daughter, Zoe Hoops, on the porch of the Chinsegut Hill Manor House.
  5. Looking Back: Adele and her baby koala come out of hiding (December 27, 1991)


    This story appeared in the pages of the St. Petersburg Times on December 27, 1991. What follows is the text of the original story, interspersed with photos of the event taken by Times staff photographer Tony Lopez.


    By Amber Grimes

    Times staff …

    Kunara, Busch Garden's shy baby koala, has been working his way out of his mother Adele's pouch since his birth.

TIMES | Tony Lopez