Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Pasco leaders seek $1.3 million from state for transitional housing facility

Justin Cook, 21, and his fiancee, Dana Sutton, 23, rest after a meal recently at the Abundant Commodities to Share Community Resource Center in Hudson. They said they have been homeless since Christmas and are both looking for work.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Justin Cook, 21, and his fiancee, Dana Sutton, 23, rest after a meal recently at the Abundant Commodities to Share Community Resource Center in Hudson. They said they have been homeless since Christmas and are both looking for work.

HOLIDAY

Rich Bekesh often finds the face of homelessness at his doorstep.

"It's not unusual for me to come to work in the morning and find people sleeping next to the building just to stay warm," said Bekesh, president of Spring Engineering in west Pasco. "It's hard to believe that happens in our state, in our community."

So Bekesh, known for his philanthropic heart, designed a 20,000-square-foot building that would provide homeless families a place to live while they look for work and find permanent homes.

The 24-unit building, to be operated by Metropolitan Ministries next to its outreach center at 3214 U.S. 19 in Holiday, would also provide services such as job training and counseling. It would be Pasco's first transitional housing facility.

Support has come from churches and other businesses. Last year, Scott Fink, president and chief executive officer of Hyundai of New Port Richey, and his wife, Kathleen, donated $100,000 to Metropolitan Ministries toward the $2 million effort.

Local advocates hope the Florida Legislature will help cover part of the cost, with $1 million for the building and additional funding for counseling, education and food. The Senate has allocated $1.3 million for the project. The House has not set aside money, but that could happen during a conference committee over the state budget.

"There's a great chance of the House accepting it in the conference committee," said state Rep. Mike Fasano, who suggested the funding to state Sen. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, chairman of the appropriations committee. Fasano said aides for House Speaker Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, have told him that they would work to protect the funding.

Fasano said the homeless in Pasco are made up primarily of parents and children.

"It's not the old fellow living in the woods," he said. "It's families living out of their cars or going from family member to family member."

The 2007 housing bust hit Pasco hard, and charities are continuing to deal with the fallout. Metropolitan Ministries' Pasco operation received more than 600 requests for housing assistance in the past 11 months, mostly due to foreclosure. Its monthly requests for services have increased by 112 percent since 2011.

"These are families that have lost their home for whatever reason, mostly foreclosure," Fasano said. "Getting them transitioned back into the work force, and back into a home, it's something that's very much needed in Pasco County."

The two-story building could house 24 families. It would include a living room with computers for job searches and resume preparation, as well as a laundry area and playground.

Metropolitan Ministries would provide meals from its kitchen, which it plans to renovate and expand to provide 2,000 meals a day to the area's homeless people, including kids in low-income schools and those attending its summer camp. The agency also wants to use the kitchen for a job training program in culinary arts. Metropolitan Ministries has raised $300,000 from other donors for the kitchen project.

"As an economic development package, (the housing facility) and the accompanying kitchen will infuse capital and hope into the surrounding communities, such as Holiday Lake Estates," said Tim Marks, president of Metropolitan Ministries.

The building would have other benefits for the county as it is incorporated into a long-term plan to address homelessness.

After years of missing out on substantial federal aid, the Homeless Coalition of Pasco County came up with a 10-year plan to address the problem. It called for seeking millions of dollars in public and private investments ranging from the construction of 350 units of "supportive housing," more emergency help for rent and utility payments to keep people in their homes, and centers where people can get financial counseling and job information.

Having a transitional housing facility "will help us to keep bringing in federal dollars," Fasano said.

Pasco leaders seek $1.3 million from state for transitional housing facility 04/12/13 [Last modified: Friday, April 12, 2013 8:34pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Future, Ruff Ryders reunion tour coming to the MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre in Tampa

    Blogs

    Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre is in the midst of a killer summer of rock (Green Day, Muse, Linkin Park) and country (Sam Hunt, Lady Antebelleum, Dierks Bentley).

    Future
  2. Rubio remains noncommital on Obamacare replacement but a likely yes vote

    Blogs

    Sen. Marco Rubio has been bombarded with phone calls, emails and on Monday, protests took place outside his offices in Doral and Palm Beach Gardens. But while the effort is most unlikely to dissuade the Florida Republican from voting for the Obamacare replacement -- if it even comes up for a vote this week -- he remains …

  3. James Wilder Jr. back at running back...in Canada

    Blogs

    Remember when former Plant High star and Florida State running back James Wilder Jr. announced he was switching to linebacker?

    That was short-lived, apparently.

  4. Unlicensed contractor accused of faking death triggers policy change at Pinellas construction licensing board

    Local Government

    The unlicensed contractor accused of faking his death to avoid angry homeowners has triggered an immediate change in policy at the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board.

    Last year Glenn and Judith Holland said they paid a contractor thousands of dollars to renovate their future retirement home in Seminole. But when they tried to move in on Dec. 14, they said the home was in shambles and uninhabitable. They sent a text message to contractor Marc Anthony Perez at 12:36 p.m. looking for answers. Fourteen minutes later, they got back this text: "This is Marc's daughter, dad passed away on the 7th of December in a car accident. Sorry." Turns out Perez was still alive. Now the Hollands are suing him in Pinellas-Pasco circuit court. [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  5. What you need to know for Tuesday, June 27

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.

    Former St. Petersburg mayor and current mayoral candidate Rick Baker, left, and St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman square off tonight in a debate. [Times]