Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa event for homeless people underscores need for centralized services, advocate says

TAMPA — Most Mondays, Jerry Morgan wakes at 4 a.m. on the streets of downtown, where he has lived for nine months.

He treks 2 1/2 hours to see a counselor at a veterans hospital.

"Nothing is close by," said Morgan, 54, who lost his home after being let go from a cleaning job. He said he recently walked 9 miles to apply for Social Security benefits.

On Friday, a woman handed him deodorant and new socks inside the Hyde Park United Methodist Church, which hosted an expo for street people called the Homeless Stand Down and Health Fair.

Morgan's mental health counselor was there. So were representatives from Social Security.

Despite rain, the event — hosted by the Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County and its partners — drew more than 400 homeless people, said Rayme L. Nuckles, chief executive of the coalition.

They fingered pamphlets on suicide prevention and post-traumatic stress disorder and picked up backpacks, rain ponchos and $10 Publix gift cards. They signed up for birth certificates, medical care, mental health services, jobs, legal help and shelter options.

In a separate room, 90 veterans enrolled for benefits, including services through a new $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The pilot program is one of five across the country to target veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. It's aimed at the recently homeless or those in danger of becoming so. Since starting here in April, it has paid to move two families and one single person into apartments. It covered back rent for another family facing eviction. Ten people were assessed for the program Friday.

Outside, a man stashed snacks in a briefcase and talked of the house he owned two years ago in Cheval.

Inside the larger room, William Joseph McClelland waited for a haircut. He said he lived in Singapore and ran a successful nutrition business for 25 years before being deported last year after marital difficulties. He tried to commit suicide but had an epiphany on the beach at Daytona and came to Tampa a month ago. Now he lives on the streets of Davis Islands and showers at Tampa General Hospital. He signed up for food stamps and counseling.

Stacye Gerthoffer was excited to get her hair trimmed. The 25-year-old lives in a park off Nebraska Avenue with a friend. She has been in shelters and abandoned houses for five months.

Curtis Johnson, 57, got into a furnished apartment after he signed up for help at last year's event. Johnson served 13 years in the Army. He said he's a certified plumber and was living on the streets before he got help.

And Morgan, the man who walks to counseling on Mondays, got on a list to get a bed at a shelter and signed up for an alcohol counseling program.

"They helped me a whole lot," he said.

Nuckles said Tampa needs a permanent "one-stop'' center to serve the homeless.

Morgan said that would save him a lot of walking.

Elisabeth Parker can be reached at or (813) 226-3431.

Hillsborough's homeless


Homeless people in Hillsborough County, according to a recent survey.

. That includes 7,336 people living on streets or in shelters and slightly more than 10,400 people living doubled up — such as two families in one home or individuals sleeping on other people's couches. It is the first time the count included those who are doubled up.

. Earlier surveys found 9,566 homeless people in 2009 and 9,532 in 2007.

. The survey, conducted in January by volunteers, includes numbers from the Department of Children and Families and the school district.

Tampa event for homeless people underscores need for centralized services, advocate says 05/06/11 [Last modified: Friday, May 6, 2011 11:28pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays late-night bullpen shuffle: Alvarado, Pruitt down; Kolarek up


    The Rays shuffled their bullpen again after Tuesday's game, sending down struggling LHP Jose Alvarado along with RHP Austin Pruitt to Triple-A Durham, and turning next to LHP Adam Kolarek, who will make his major-league debut at age 28,

  2. Tampa Bay Times honored for top investigative story in Gerald Loeb annual business awards


    The Tampa Bay Times was a co-winner in the investigative category for one of the highest honors in business journalism.

    Tampa Bay Times current and former staff writers William R. Levesque, Nathaniel Lash and Anthony Cormier were honored in the investigative category for their coverage of "Allegiant Air" in the 60th Anniversary Gerald Loeb Awards for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism. 


  3. Pasco woman gives birth to child fathered by 11 year old, deputies say


    A Port Richey woman was arrested Tuesday, nearly three years after deputies say she gave birth to a child fathered by an 11-year-old boy.

    Marissa Mowry, 25, was arrested Tuesday on charges she sexually assaulted an 11-year-old and gave birth to his child. [Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office]
  4. For good of the Rays, Tim Beckham should embrace move to second

    The Heater

    PITTSBURGH — The acquisition of slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria said a lot of things, most notably that the Rays are serious about making in-season moves to bolster their chances to make the playoffs, with a reliever, or two, next on the shopping list.

    PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 27:  Tim Beckham #1 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates with teammates after scoring during the eighth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on June 27, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images) 700011399
  5. St. Petersburg showdown: Kriseman faces Baker for first time tonight at the Rev. Louis Murphy Sr.'s church

    Local Government

    A standing-room-only crowd packed a Midtown church banquet hall Tuesday to witness the first face-off between Mayor Rick Kriseman and former mayor Rick Baker in what is a watershed mayoral contest in the city's history.

    Former Mayor Rick Baker, left, is challenging incumbent Mayor Rick Kriseman, right, to become St. Petersburg mayor.