Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Money for homeless tent city rankles residents paying higher rent

When the Pinellas County Housing Authority decided last month to give $300,000 to the Pinellas Hope tent city for the homeless, board members cast it as a good deed.

After a rough year that saw the authority's executive director, Darrell Irions, leave in a spat, the gift was meant to be positive news. The agency even released a picture of its members smiling with a big check.

Betty Hover, 74, didn't crack a grin.

Hover, who lives in the agency's Palm Lake Village affordable seniors housing complex, had her rent raised $15 this year to $435 a month. A sour economy had left "insufficient interest income to offset operating expenses," according to a March letter sent to residents.

The $300,000 gift for Pinellas Hope is coming from the budget of the Palm Lake Village Housing Corporation, an offshoot of the county authority. The corporation, run by the authority, includes Hover's complex in Dunedin and the Crystal Lakes Manor apartments and the Magnolia Gardens assisted living facility, both in Pinellas Park.

"I'm very irritated over them donating this money … because there are people that live in Palm Lake Village that could really use more help, and they're not getting it," said Hover, a three-year resident there. "And their living conditions could be improved with this money, and they're not getting it."

A new community center opened in Hover's complex this year. But she and other residents said they are charged high repair fees. A new toilet bowl costs almost $40, according to a list of fees provided by the authority. An energy efficient bulb is $7, though the authority says tenant-provided bulbs are put in for free.

Housing authority officials initially blamed complaints such as Hover's on confusion between the housing corporation's budget and that of its namesake apartments. The money had to come from the housing corporation, they said, because it doesn't use federal housing money, so it doesn't have the same restrictions.

However, revenue for all three complexes is funneled into a single pool of money, and explanations from authority officials haven't always meshed.

Chairman Joe Triolo said it is his understanding that the Pinellas Hope money will come from the pooled fund. He also noted that the rent increase was Palm Lake Village's first since 2001.

Board member Cynthia Wilson, who lives in Palm Lake Village herself, said Thursday she wasn't sure of the financial details surrounding the gift. "Right now," she said, "I don't know enough about it."

Wilson, who doesn't pay the rent increase because she falls under the federal government's Section 8 housing plan, cast the dissenters as merely a few people "who couldn't be happy with anything."

Agency spokeswoman Liane Caruso said the first $150,000 for Pinellas Hope would come only from Crystal Lakes Manor and Magnolia Gardens revenue. The source of the remaining $150,000 come next year isn't settled, she said. It can't come from Medicaid funds received at Magnolia Gardens, according to an e-mail from Caruso.

Triolo defended the gift.

"We did look at it very carefully. We did do this for the people in need of help and temporary housing," said Triolo, who spearheaded the contribution to cash-strapped Pinellas Hope. "We definitely can revisit that and make sure that is clear."

David DeCamp can be reached at or (727) 893-8779.

Money for homeless tent city rankles residents paying higher rent 12/05/09 [Last modified: Saturday, December 5, 2009 12:09am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs have chance to beat Vikings in their third stadium


    Here's a cool sign that the Bucs are getting up there as an NFL franchise: If Tampa Bay can win Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium, it will mark the first time the Bucs have posted road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.

    TIMES ARCHIVES (2012) | Bucs RB Doug Martin runs during Tampa Bay's 36-17 win at the Vikings in 2012, in what was then called Mall of America Field. If Tampa Bay wins Sunday, it will mark the first time they have road wins against the same NFL opponent in three different stadiums.
  2. Memorial for Snooty the manatee, postponed because of Irma, to be held Sunday


    A public memorial to celebrate the life of 69-year-old Snooty the manatee will be held at the South Florida Museum on Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.

    Snooty , the world's most celebrated manatee, begs for another slice of apple in his pool in the Parker Manatee Aquarium at the South Florida Museum in Bradenton in 2008. Snooty was 60 then. [Times 2008]
  3. Residents wade through a flooded road after the passing of Hurricane Maria, in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, Friday, September 22, 2017. Because of the heavy rains brought by Maria, thousands of people were evacuated from Toa Baja after the municipal government opened the gates of the Rio La Plata Dam. [Associated Press]
  4. NFL commissioner, players' union angrily denounce Trump comments on national anthem


    SOMERSET, N.J. — The National Football League and its players' union on Saturday angrily denounced President Donald Trump for suggesting that owners fire players who kneel during the national …

    President Donald Trump walks off the stage after he speaks at campaign rally in support of Sen. Luther Strange, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, in Huntsville, Ala. [Associated Press]
  5. New earthquake, magnitude 6.1, shakes jittery Mexico


    MEXICO CITY — A strong new earthquake shook Mexico on Saturday, causing new alarm in a country reeling from two still-more-powerful quakes this month that have killed nearly 400 people.

    Locals play pool at a venue in Mexico City's La Condesa neighborhood, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017, four days after the 7.1 earthquake. The upscale Mexico City neighborhood was one of the hardest hit, with more than a half-dozen collapsed buildings in the immediate vicinity. The few Condesa residents who ventured out Friday night said they were anxious for relief from an anguishing week. [Associated Press]