Sunday, May 20, 2018
Editorials

County is right to keep church homeless shelter open

Pasco County correctly picked stewardship over bureaucracy in agreeing to keep the doors open at a church homeless shelter. The importance of that decision, overturning a code enforcement officer's cease-and-desist order to the Chancy Road Christian Church's shelter, is magnified by the blast of chilly temperatures, strong winds and hard freeze warning that prompted cold weather shelters to open overnight. Though the church does not need a county permit to operate on cold nights, forcing it to shut down the rest of the time — pending a county permit — would have sent confusing messages to an at-risk population seeking shelter.

And it is a population that has continued to grow. A January 2011 count put the county's homeless population at 4,400 on any given day, including 1,600 people (up from 617 two years earlier) considered chronically homeless because they had been on the street for at least a year.

The church has operated a cold-weather shelter for two years, but over the summer it began allowing homeless people to spend the night regardless of the outside temperatures.

Last month, it applied for a so-called conditional use permit to operate as a 130-bed shelter on 4.5 acres.

The rural neighborhood, west and south of the city of Zephyrhills, features single-family homes on large, multi-acre lots and a mobile home park to the south.

Last week, a neighbor's family member complained to the county about the shelter operations, which brought the code enforcement action. A day later, county administrators reversed their staff and told the church its shelter could remain open pending action on its application.

As part of the conditions set by the county, the shelter operators must meet with neighbors to address any concerns they might have. That meeting is scheduled for Thursday. The county's Planning Commission — an advisory panel — and the county commission are scheduled to rule on the permit application in the next two months.

The church should be commended for trying to expand its mission and to help meet the needs of the homeless population. Still, it must also make a good-faith attempt to address concerns from neighbors who may wonder about suitable buffers or the potential for increased criminal activity. (The Pasco Sheriff's Office website shows that, since Dec. 2, deputies have gone to the nearby mobile home park more often than to the church/shelter.)

Pasco County also must be commended for allowing the Chancey Road Christian Church to continue serving the needy while its permit application is pending. Trying to help the homeless requires thinking more substantive than not-in-my-back-yard.

Comments
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

Editorial: Voters should decide whether legal sports betting comes to Florida

It’s a safe bet Florida will get caught up in the frenzy to legalize wagering on sports following the U.S. Supreme Court opinion this week that lifted a federal ban. Struggling horse and dog tracks would love a new line of business, and state l...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/16/18