The City of Tampa has partnered with Catholic Charities and several community partners to help homeless individuals get off the streets during the COVID-19 pandemic.
While City of Tampa residents are staying safely at home as much as possible, homeless individuals in our community are facing scarce resources and limited space in shelters.
To help those who have no place to go during this difficult time, the City of Tampa has contracted Catholic Charities ($120,000) to establish Hillsborough Hope.
Hillsborough Hope is an emergency homeless shelter that will house 100 homeless individuals. The shelter will provide housing using tents, three meals a day, showers, laundry, case management, and medical care. The goal of this project is to provide a place where the homeless can also be "safer at home".
Hillsborough Hope is a voluntary program designed to help cut down on the possible spread of the COVID-19 virus. When a person arrives, they will complete an intake, receive toiletries and be provided with a numbered tent. The tents are set-up to allow for social distancing and a schedule will be provided to help with compliance. The model used to set up Hillsborough Hope is in line with the Health Department's preference towards open-air shelters which are considered better to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
"All parties have recognized the need to provide this important service to the homeless of Tampa and while unfortunate, the coronavirus crisis has proven to be the catalyst to make it happen.", said Margaret (Maggie) Rogers, Catholic Charities' Executive Director. "We are grateful to the City of Tampa for their faith in our ability to replicate our work serving the homeless of Pinellas County."
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A project of this scale would typically take months, if not a year, to create—however, through the hard work of volunteers, staff, and community partners the site was established in just 7 days.
This inspiring effort was only made possible thanks to the generosity of several local organizations and selfless individuals in our community.
One of those organizations, Ashley HomeStore, donated 100 mattresses to Hillsborough Hope—offering homeless individuals a safe place to rest during these uncertain times. The mattresses were delivered over the weekend and distributed amongst the 100 tents.
"In these times of uncertainty, it is important to band together and do our part for our community," said Kelly Davis, Sr. Director of Marketing Strategy at Ashley HomeStore. "Enriching the lives of those around us is part of our brand purpose, and it is opportunities like these that help us bring that to life."
Other community partners that stepped up to lend a helping hand included Smith Fencing, who donated the screening, Chris Kirschner of BDG Architects who provided the layout to meet health safety concerns, and Chris Oman of Oman Construction who provided the electrical and water hook-ups. Each of these organizations offered vital support, making this project possible in a short period of time.
"In Tampa, we help each other in times of need, and Hillsborough Hope is a perfect example of that," says Mayor Jane Castor. "Our community came together on this mission to supply potentially life-saving resources to individuals that have nowhere else to go. Thanks to Catholic Charities and our generous community partners, 100 Homeless individuals will have a place to sleep at night, a place to shower, and a place to hunker down—protecting them and the rest of our community from the spread of COVID-19. I believe everyone deserves a safe place to stay during these uncertain times, and the sooner we start taking care of each other, the sooner we can get through this together."
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The City of Tampa would like to thank Catholic Charities, Ashley HomeStore, Smith Fencing, BDG Architects, Oman Construction, and all other community partners, volunteers, and employees who made Hillsborough Hope possible in the midst of COVID-19.
Photos of Hillsborough Hope are available in the following Dropbox folder: dropbox.com/sh/nj5xy5p07f2axxe/AADbZchBn1ArZMGD2irmO1iba?dl=0
For more information about coronavirus, visit our website at tampagov.net/COVID-19 and text TAMPAREADY or TAMPALISTA to 888-777 to receive emergency text alerts.
Those in need of social service can also visit our website at tampagov.net/emergency-management/covid-19/social-services or call the Tampa's Recovery Hotline at 1-833-TPA-INFO.
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