CLEARWATER — The number of homeless staying at the new Pinellas Safe Harbor shelter near the county jail has ramped up, sheriff's officials said Sunday.
The shelter, which began with 29 people on Thursday, had 51 by Sunday morning. Pinellas County sheriff and shelter officials expect to meet today to discuss increasing capacity this week to 100.
The increase in people staying there is due to homeless people arriving off the street, shelter workers said. Those there initially mostly arrived through the efforts of outreach teams.
The shelter, a former jail annex and bus garage off 49th Street, was created to divert homeless people with minor offenses, such as trespassing, from the jail. To start, however, the Sheriff's Office has sheltered homeless people who voluntarily arrive in order to work out any kinks before reaching full strength.
Ultimately, the shelter has a capacity of 500 and will accept recently released inmates who are homeless, too.
The shelter allows people to stay if they're inebriated, offering mats to sleep on and three meals daily. It features an amnesty box for weapons and illegal drugs.
No one has been asked to leave the shelter due to any problems, said Lt. Sean McGillen, the shelter director.
David DeCamp can be reached at email@example.com or (727) 893-8779.