Filth didn't stop referrals | Oct. 27
A model for helping the homeless
As a volunteer serving our Hillsborough County neighbors challenged by homelessness or near homelessness, I believe that breaking the cycle of homelessness is resource-intensive and complex, and our current one-size-fits-all solutions woefully miss the mark.
Based on County Administrator's Mike Merrill's statement that his staff is making great headway, I trust that our commissioners understand the current complexities and the range of comprehensive services required to effect meaningful changes.
Successful outcomes will depend on a service model that clearly communicates how consumers are made aware of homeless prevention services. In the model's assessment phase, consumers can easily self-qualify by telephone or computer, minimizing travel. The nearly and newly homeless are given priority, especially those with minor children.
In the rollout phase, nearly and newly homeless consumers are triaged with assessment, customized referrals and wraparound services, including short-term case management to prevent them from becoming chronically homeless. Emergency funds are available for up to 30-day motel stays, food, short-term transportation, gas and clothing.
In the housing phase, qualified, properly supported consumers transition from emergency to transitional to permanent housing with public/private options.
In the review phase, county leadership and advocates analyze if the model is working, identify inefficiencies or gaps in services and make adjustments.
This model streamlines many of current Neighborhood Service Centers' processes. Eliminated are the costly delays with phone calls, standing in lines, orientations, delayed appointments and decisions on qualification, etc., which are not only inefficient but disrespectful to the people seeking assistance.
This corrective action is neither swift nor inexpensive and won't be accomplished overnight. However, it is a model that can leverage all available resources and, with engaged county leadership, is a model that public, private lead agencies and small, private volunteer organizations can get solidly behind. Disgruntled taxpayers, consumer advocates and bruised, neglected consumers await the details of the county's solution.
Michael Doyle, Tampa
Another form of bullying | Oct. 22, letter
I agree with the letter writer's account of online intimidation of children and adults.
Breezing through the Internet, I came across the mug shot of a former high school friend posted by a private Internet company. He has been a great person all his life, with many fine accomplishments, but had an alimony dispute.
It is cruel and dangerous to subject people to this type of stockade justice. It should be illegal.
Robert Tarnay, Palmetto
Calls to alter health law | Oct. 28
Give reforms a chance
The current caterwauling about the slow startup of the Affordable Care Act shows little real thought. We've been trying to get some type of affordable health care for millions of Americans for over a century, and now that we are nearly there and have hit a few bumps in the road you'd think it was Armageddon to the very people who wanted it to just go away.
Did Henry Ford, the Wright brothers or Edison find success on their first attempt? No, it took many tries to get a usable product. Just settle down, as my elementary school teacher said, you have to walk before you can run. We are this close to having a good product so just relax and let it happen.
James Teske, Tampa
Requiring photo ID makes sense | Oct. 28
Income and IDs
I would guess that most of the things mentioned in this letter that require photo ID are not done by most of the 21 million who do not have photo IDs. Poor people rarely cash checks, use a credit card, board an airplane, rent a car, stay in a motel, and so forth. Many do not have checking accounts, credit cards, and frequent flyer miles. They may have their voter registration card, which used to be sufficient to vote.
Esther Kirk, Riverview
Pressure on U.S. to end spying | Oct. 26
President in the dark
"The president didn't know." Where have I heard that before? It was just last week that President Barack Obama made his Rose Garden infomercial about the viability of the Affordable Health Care Act and how good it was going to be after the "tech surge" mended the glitches. The American people were told that the president was not aware that Obamacare was so difficult to navigate, and that this was unacceptable to him.
Now there's something else making headlines that Obama did not know about. The National Security Agency was tracking communications of European heads of state, and the president never got the memo. But fortunately, this was not an oversight or infraction of the rules by the president's administration. It was that old nemesis and evildoer, former President George W. Bush. Yes, five years later, with new administrators in every possible government agency, George Bush can still be the fall guy for this president.
Paul Lloyd, Tampa
Rubio rethinks immigration reform plan Oct. 29
Lack of leadership
Florida's junior senator and potential presidential candidate seems to be unable to make up his mind about immigration reform. As one of the eight senators who drafted the bill on that subject, Marco Rubio is now walking away from his own handiwork. From one who apparently aspires to be president, this shows a lack of leadership ability.
He has become an "uncertain trumpet." Does he want reform or not? Who can follow a leader who doesn't know which way to go on this important issue? Perhaps his flip-flop has been brought about by pressure from the tea party. In which case he is not a leader but a follower, and not the kind of person one would want as president and commander in chief.
Rubio seems willing to let President Barack Obama lead the way on immigration. That is a strange position for a Republican.
Donald Hehir, Tampa