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. Southeast Seminole Heights holds candlelight vigil for victims' families and each other


    TAMPA — They came together in solidarity in Southeast Seminole Heights, to sustain three families in their grief and to confront fear, at a candlelight vigil held Sunday night in the central Tampa neighborhood.

    A peaceful march that began on east New Orleans Avenue was held during the candlelight vigil for the three victims who were killed in the recent shootings in the Seminole Heights neighborhood in Tampa on Sunday, October 22, 2017.
  2. It's not just Puerto Rico: FEMA bogs down in Florida, Texas too

    HOUSTON — Outside Rachel Roberts' house, a skeleton sits on a chair next to the driveway, a skeleton child on its lap, an empty cup in its hand and a sign at its feet that reads "Waiting on FEMA."

    Ernestino Leon sits among the debris removed from his family’s flood-damaged Bonita Springs home on Oct. 11. He has waited five weeks for FEMA to provide $10,000 to repair the home.
  3. McConnell says he's awaiting Trump guidance on health care

    STERLING, Va. — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Sunday he's willing to bring bipartisan health care legislation to the floor if President Donald Trump makes clear he supports it.

    Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says he’s “not certain yet” on what Trump wants.
  4. Tampa's Lance McCullers shows killer instinct in pitching Astros to World Series


    HOUSTON — It felt like the beginning on Saturday night at Minute Maid Park, the arrival of a new force on the World Series stage. The Astros are back, for the first time in a dozen years, and they want to stay a while.

    Houston Astros starting pitcher Lance McCullers (43) throwing in the fifth inning of the game between the Houston Astros and the Tampa Bay Rays in Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, July 12, 2015.
  5. Jones: Where are the difference-makers on the Bucs defense?


    ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — They can't tackle. They can't cover. They can't pressure the quarterback, let alone sack him.

    Buffalo Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor (5) scrambles past Bucs defensive tackle Clinton McDonald (98) during the first half. [LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times]