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Pinellas Hope officials celebrate the opening of permanent buildings at 'Tent City'

PINELLAS PARK — Tent City is going bricks and mortar.

Pinellas Hope, a complex of roughly 250 tents and sheds for homeless people, will open 80 transitional housing apartments in two to six weeks. The efficiency units have gone up on the same 13-acre tract as the tents off 126th Avenue N in unincorporated Pinellas.

"What a dream come true," Sheila Lopez, chief executive officer of Catholic Charities, said at the grand opening Tuesday.

Speakers such as St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster and Pinellas County Commission Chairwoman Karen Seel lauded the second phase of the complex.

The $4.3 million project, paid with state and local funding, includes a community center with a dining room, offices and bathrooms.

The project, which faced months of delays due to a funding shortage, will be eligible for federal housing vouchers. Officials say residents who have jobs and meet federal housing requirements will be eligible to move into the apartments.

The St. Petersburg Housing Authority will provide 40 federal vouchers to help the elderly, disabled and homeless military veterans use the apartments.

Pinellas Hope, started by Catholic Charities in December 2007, generally holds about 250 people at a time, providing them with a place to live and restart their lives. Often referred to as "Tent City," it relies on government money from Pinellas and its cities and private donations.

David DeCamp can be reached at ddecamp@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8779.

Pinellas Hope officials celebrate the opening of permanent buildings at 'Tent City' 09/07/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, September 7, 2010 11:30pm]
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