Finding hope and help | July 14, editorial
Affordable housing key to solution
Front-page coverage of a chronically homeless Hillsborough County family provides a sobering, tip-of-the-iceberg assessment of the crisis facing us. Alarming numbers of Hillsborough family units struggle to pay rent far beyond federal guidelines — 30 percent of household income. While the Hartzells' $750 rent exceeding their $710 household income is rare, destructive upside-down rent-to-income ratios are commonplace and won't change without adequate affordable housing options from Hillsborough County.
No single agency can solve all the complex issues of growing countywide poverty. Existing safety net resources operating independently are inadequate to meet the current growing level of needs. "All hands on deck" are required — elected county and city leaders, public and private agencies, corporations, private donors and faith communities across denomination lines to collaboratively meet these multifaceted needs.
Hillsborough County's emphasis on a Housing First model has helped those struggling with chronic homelessness but at the expense of fewer resources available to our housing-insecure. This includes those nearly and newly homeless, where we are steadily losing ground. Lacking basic resources, including affordable housing options, our housing-insecure family units churn in and out of overpriced housing and further overload our broken social services safety nets.
Hundreds of housing-insecure families find themselves victims of a frightening slippery slope, from nearly to newly to chronically homeless, due in large part to a lack of housing options. They deserve and desperately await a housing response that only the county can provide.
Michael Doyle, Tampa
Drawing two new districts | July 16
A domino effect
Redrawing just two Florida districts is impossible. Almost all districts will have to be redrawn. Look at Florida like a cruise ship on which you want to change the shape of two cabins. When you move a wall a foot, it affects another cabin, so that cabin has to be changed along with the ones affected by that change. The interrelationship of all the cabins causes a domino effect resulting in changes — large and small — to the entire ship. Or, in Florida's case, all voting districts.
Howard Taylor, St. Petersburg
For F school, C not enough | July 17
Don't blame the teachers
Once again, it's blame the teachers when students cannot (or will not) learn mostly due to circumstances outside the classroom. Your article gave percentages indicative of a major portion of the student body not well versed in the English language combined with extreme poverty levels at home.
How is a teacher to successfully communicate with children who are unable to understand what is being taught? Then, with that frustration in mind, be fired or demoted from their job for failings beyond their control? I am not a teacher but have great respect for anyone who has the inspiration to enter a profession that is so demanding — not only in its educational requirements, but in dealing with parents, the community and a broken system, at best.
How is it that only 20 volunteers, out of 40 organizations, showed up to help? I realize most have full-time jobs preventing the effort, but I'm sure there are quite a few available. The parents also need to pitch in when they can. When my child was young, I volunteered and saw firsthand how difficult it is to deal with some 20 to 25 children at a time. I remember how it only took one disruptive child to wreak havoc on the entire class, and there was no language barrier in play.
There may be teachers who are not motivated, just as in any profession, but you have to be gutsy and dedicated to endure in this game. Ironically, a teacher with a master's in English as a second language was demoted. Go back to school and see how difficult and expensive a master's is to accomplish.
It won't be long, with this type of action, that we will have no one left to teach. Then what?
Jeanne Wallace, Brooksville
He opened his eyes to injustices around him July 17, commentary
Rhetoric and reality
Once again, Leonard Pitts nails it. Barack Obama has been our president for almost six years now. The world hasn't come to an end. The economy hasn't collapsed. No one has been sent to "death panels," and America has not become a Communist state or a welfare state. Unfortunately, the howling pundits of the hard-core right wing keep millions convinced that it has anyway.
Considering the scope of the mess left behind by the Bush administration, and considering a Republican House that refuses to do anything but prove how much they despise him, I believe Obama is doing as good a job as is humanly possible.
Ernest Race, Port Richey
Apparently you cannot criticize the president without someone thinking you dislike him because of the color of his skin. I did not vote for the man, but I listened to his message of hope and change. I wanted him to succeed. I wanted to see someone bring our nation unity and represent the best interests of all the people.
But he has divided the country even further. It has nothing to do with the color of his skin, but with his political actions, which only serve the Democratic Party and his political hacks.
Lynn Wood, Tierra Verde
Advance for gay rights | July 17
Put this debate to rest
I'm pleased that the Hillsborough County Commission has finally passed a bill banning discrimination based on sexual orientation, and thankful for Kevin Beckner bringing this to the table.
Once again, however, we heard the same tired arguments from the same people. Since Pastor Travis Smith quotes Leviticus, I ask: How does he handle parishioners who come to church with their babies, yet they are not married? Or how does he deal with congregants who have tattoos, another sin according to Leviticus?
We escaped England in order to freely worship God in whatever manner we thought appropriate. The cry of the Christian movement to have one religion seems to resemble the religious government we fled centuries ago.
Ronald Medvin, Tampa