A new homeless shelter for families is set to open in Port Richey by the end of the month thanks to a joint effort by Catholic Charities Diocese of St. Petersburg, the Coalition for the Homeless of Pasco County and the county.
The county have paid $1.3 million to renovate an existing structure at 8225 Youth Lane to become the new Pasco Family Shelter.
It will be designed to accommodate up to nine families at a time, which is defined by anyone who is in custody of a minor, including a grandparent caring for a child or a same-sex couple with children, said Danielle Husband, senior director of programs at Catholic Charities.
Families are expected to stay at the shelter for up to 75 days, Husband said. During that time they’ll have access to a full-time case manager that will help them seek permanent housing. Volunteers will also offer shelter residents classes on subjects such as budgeting, parenting and stress management.
“We want to wrap the folks that we’re serving so they can be successful moving forward,” Husband said. “Our success is that they never have to come back to shelter.”
The Pasco Family Shelter will meet a pressing need exacerbated by the pandemic. The county counted at least 200 homeless families between January and May, Husband said.
But the actual number of families in need is much higher, she said. There are families out there who weren’t counted or are living in unacceptable conditions.
The average age of a homeless child in the county is 8, Husband said.
“We’ve got babies on the street,” she said. “That’s not acceptable in any community.”
Catholic Charities and the coalition held a blessing ceremony Friday at the new shelter location. Bishop Gregory Parkes blessed the new facility, Husband said, followed by remarks from the coalition’s CEO, Don Anderson, and Pasco County Assistant Administrator Cathy Pearson.
Earlier this year, Catholic Charities applied to operate and manage the shelter in partnership with the coalition and Pasco County government. It will operate on an annual budget of nearly $400,000 paid for by all three entities.
Catholic Charities provides over 2,000 units of housing for different homeless populations across Tampa Bay, including HIV-positive women and children, low-income migrant workers, and seniors with limited income.
The organization runs Pinellas Hope in Clearwater, which has served over 12,000 men and women since 2007, and Mercy House in Tampa, where over 2,000 HIV/AID-positive families have received services and 90 percent of whom have become self-sufficient, according to a press release.
Individuals do not have to be Catholic to receive services from their shelters, Husband said.
The Coalition for the Homeless of Pasco County is an organization of more than 40 agencies and service providers partnering to reduce the county’s homeless population.
To provide financial assistance, please text PascoShelter to 91999