Sunday, June 24, 2018
Letters To The Editor

Tuesday's letters: Block grants bring social and financial gains

Block grants

Grants bring social, financial gain

Last October, Alpha House of Tampa was awarded $50,000 through the city of Tampa's highly competitive Community Development Block Grant annual funding process. This sounds like a drop in the bucket of the $3 billion the federal government would cut nationwide with its proposed budget. However, for homeless pregnant women and parenting mothers and their children served by Alpha House of Tampa, elimination of this funding would prove devastating.

Alpha House of Tampa's CDBG-funded program assists homeless women in crisis by providing safe emergency shelter, pre- and post-natally, so they can develop the education and skills necessary to become and remain employed in living-wage jobs and ultimately move into permanent housing. Many Alpha House of Tampa residents face one or more of the crises of homelessness: domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness and poverty.

Our CDBG funding supports a full-time housing case manager who assists residents with finding permanent housing and integration into the community. The case manager conducts needs assessments, provides mediation and advocacy with landlords, makes referrals to appropriate community-based social services and/or programs, and offers budget counseling and education to empower women to secure appropriate housing. Most importantly, the case manager provides home visits to former residents to ensure stability and continued progress toward self-sufficiency so they do not return to homelessness.

Contrary to statements otherwise, CDBG funding has more than proven its worth by improving living conditions for the poor, including women who are pregnant and homeless. For example, in 2016, three-quarters of families who exited Alpha House of Tampa moved into permanent housing. This represented a cost savings to the Tampa Bay community estimated at $4.6 million. Equally, if not more significant, 67 mothers found affordable and secure housing so they are stabilized for the long term, helping to break the cycle of poverty for themselves and for their children.

I encourage our citizenry to lobby elected officials to continue funding Community Development Block Grants. It makes sense, financially and socially.

Patricia J. Langford, Tampa

The writer is executive director of Alpha House of Tampa.

Keep state building codes strong | March 29, commentary

Building codes remain solid

Craig Fugate's recent column, written on behalf of Floridians for Safe Communities, is a classic example of modern-day fear-mongering by an organization whose sole purpose is to protect special interests and derail reasonable reform.

Contrary to Fugate's remarks, Senate Bill 7000 was designed to bring more common sense to Florida's building code update process. There is no evidence to suggest that the bill prevents potential innovations or provisions designed to enhance safety from making it into our code. In fact, the bill specifically requires the Florida Building Code to maintain all of the energy efficiency, wind and water intrusion standards currently adopted, many of which exceed those required by the International Code Council.

I have known Fugate for over 15 years and have great respect for his many accomplishments as a public servant at the state and federal level. I served as president of the Florida Senate during the hurricane era Fugate refers to in his op-ed and accompanied Gov. Jeb Bush on several of the same tours of storm-ravaged areas. I too am a strong advocate for Florida's modernized building code.

Fugate's assertion that SB 7000 will somehow result in a weakened Florida Building Code amounts to nothing more than scare tactics, and he offers no evidence to substantiate his allegations.

Perhaps what is most disappointing is that someone of Fugate's stature would allow himself to serve as the face of Floridians for Safe Communities. This group, posing as a "broad-based coalition" to safeguard Floridians, was created overnight in direct response to SB 7000. It serves no purpose other than to protect the status quo, provide a front for his column, and otherwise attempt to mislead the public.

I have every confidence that Florida's Building Commission will continue to responsibly update the code, and there is no good reason to suggest otherwise.

Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa

Continuing care retirement communities

Give reform bill a hearing

We're nearly halfway through the 2017 legislative session and lawmakers are missing an opportunity to protect the 30,000 senior citizens who live in Florida's 71 continuing care retirement communities. CCRCs provide a campus environment with independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing all in one setting.

Since 2013, there have been three CCRC bankruptcies in Florida. This is the most in more than 20 years. The most recent and concerning bankruptcy occurred at University Village in Tampa. During the last two years, the more than 500 senior citizens who reside at University Village have lived under a cloud of anxiety, literally not knowing what was going to happen to their community. The residents have seen collectively millions of dollars of hard-earned retirement funds invested into their CCRC disappear.

This case prompted state Sen. Tom Lee and Rep.Cyndi Stevenson to file meaningful reform legislation. The Florida Life Care Residents Association supports elements of the proposed legislation that would improve the ability of the Office of Insurance Regulation to protect the rights and welfare of the 30,000 residents living in CCRCs. Unfortunately, the Legislature has not heard either bill yet.

The vast majority of CCRC operators and owners are experienced, dedicated and successful in delivering quality services to seniors. This makes it even more important to improve the law to ensure that CCRCs continue to be seen as a vibrant and desirable long-term care option for seniors.

Pat Arends, Bradenton

The writer is president of the Florida Life Care Residents Association.


Monday’s letters: College instructors need classes in active shooter training

Active shooter perceptions disproven | June 21We need active shooter trainingThe only guns that I had seen before coming to the United States of America were in glass cases in museums. When I came to America to get a Ph.D. in English at the Unive...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Friday’s letters: What a new Rays ballpark would mean

Rays exec hints at stadium timeline | June 15What a new ballpark would doThe Tampa Bay Rays 2020 organization is working diligently with local business leaders and civic organizations to rally support for the Rays’ new ballpark in Ybor City. The ...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/22/18

Thursday’s letters: On immigration there has to be a better way

‘Zero tolerance’ ignites outrage | June 20Find better way on immigrationOver the years I’ve voted for candidates from both parties. My observation of the Trump administration’s policy on immigration is not about politics. It has to do with having...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/21/18

Wednesday’s letters: Charters and traditional public schools each have their place

Public school as public good | Letter, June 17Both kinds of schools can workAs a mother and grandmother of children raised in both traditional public and charter schools in Pinellas County (and a 25-year supporting-services employee for public sc...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/20/18

Tuesday’s letters: Keep programs that fight AIDS

For author Biden, it’s a father’s gift | June 6Keep programs that fight AIDSAfter former Vice President Joe Biden’s recent visit to St. Petersburg, I noticed an article that he co-wrote with former Sen. Bill Frist. It reminded everyone about the ...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/19/18

Is anyone watching the money?Hernando County’s budget shortfall is ever changing going from $6 million to $11.5 million to $14 million to what is assumed a final number of $12.6 million. Who knows the budget shortfall could change again.Who’s watchi...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18

Re: County OKs solar zones | June 8Plea ignored at solar plant hearingThe Pasco County Commission on June 5 voted to identify a utility-sized solar electric plant as a "special exception" use on agricultural-zoned land in Pasco County. What thi...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18

Monday’s letters: Skip those plastic bags and save the environment

To save our seas, overcome congressional apathy | Column, June 16Do your part and skip plastic bagsEvery day we read about the shame of our landfills and oceans filling up with plastic bags, yet most people don’t care. My wife and I always carry ...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/18/18

White House defends splitting up families as ‘biblical’ | June 15The suffering of the childrenI am a mother and attorney with more than 20 years of practice living in Tampa. For the past three years, I worked as a magistrate in a Unified Family C...
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18

Saturday’s letters: Community-based care requires community involvement

Fix foster care, and do it quickly | Editorial, June 15Involve the community itselfWhile the detailed article about the scathing state review of Hillsborough County’s foster care problems touched on leadership, a critical point was not addressed....
Published: 06/14/18
Updated: 06/15/18