The Tampa City Council discusses homelessness by Mitch E. Perry

11/16/06

As reported by WMNF earlier this week, this is National Hunger and Homelessness week. Today a member of the Iorio Administration and a local homeless coalition gave an update to the Tampa City Council on the state of Homelessness in the City of Tampa.

After hearing the presentation on the Homeless, City Councilman Sean Harrison asked local officials what if anything could be done about the number of homeless sleeping on the steps of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in downtown Tampa. (roll tape#1 o.q.�remedy that situation�)

Christine Burdick is from the Tampa Downtown Partnership. She said that she plans to meet next week with Father Andrew Reitz, pastor of Sacred Heart, who has granted permission for the homeless to sleep on church property, and to be fed there as well.(roll tape#2 o.q.�and accepted�)

Acknowledging that there are some homeless people who have no desire to stay in a shelter, Councilman Harrison then followed up by saying that he has heard from faith based institutions that if people are really in need in Tampa, there are always places available with beds to house those them. (roll tape#3 o.q.�they just want to be there�) But Christine Burdick disputed that there are always beds available for the homeless (roll tape#4 o.q.�a bed that night�)

A 30 member task force on the Homeless revealed that Hillsborough County has more than 11,000 homeless people, the 6th highest amount of homeless in the nation. The task force offered some solutions, but then broke up. They’ve handed their work to the Hillborough County’s Homeless Coalition.

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Fran Davin is Mayor Iorio’s liaison on homelessness issues. She pointed to the comprehensive programs that both Miami-Dade and Broward County have instituted this decade with the homeless, and the impressive numbers they’ve been able to take off the streets (roll tape#5 o.q.� and community effort�)

A City Attorney also told the Council that currently there is NO permit required for those who are feeding the homeless in Tampa. She said that the Tampa Police Department is only arresting people downtown if those homeless are guilty of other crimes.

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