Rhonda Abbott, mgr of social services funding w/ City of St. Pete by Dawn Morgan

11/27/06

This morning, WMNF spoke further with Rhonda Abbott, manager of social services planning for the city of St. Petersburg. She oversees all the funding for the city’s social service activities and says a lot of progress has already been made toward the homeless cause, and much more effort is still to come with St. Pete’s 10 year plan, which was implemented earlier this year.

Homeless leadership network – elected officials in P. Co., service providers leaders, civic leaders, homeless reps. Working towards solving the issues in the county. 10 year plan implemented in May 2006. a lot of folks here can make decisions. Council members Jamie Bennett and Jeff Danner both sit on network.

Pin. Hom. Coalition – service providers. Addressing issues Rev. Wright brought up. He is active here.

St. Pete Task Force – Rev Wright. Meets monthly.

Advocacy Committee – co chair Rev. Wright.

We’re doing everything we can to address issue. City to spend $2.5M funding for social services and housing for the homeless and those at risk of becoming. A lot of effort already made. We’ll continue moving fwd. Past couple of months – 37 more beds in 3 local shelters. Outreach team of police officer and social worker. Talk to homeless and hook them up with services. Lots that this county is doing to resolve issues at hand. Sometimes things don’t move fast enough for some folks. A lot of attention.

D: Did the protest bring negative energy to the problem?

R: Deters positive attention to the issues at hand. I have been in the arena for over 20 years in this county. Have never exp. Such a coming together of forces. Things take a little while to get in place. Since Feb, March of this year, a lot has been accomplished. There is a group of homeless, 20%, choose to be on the streets. Chronic. Some folks we will never be able to assist. The other 80 we can and will assist.

D: How can regular people help if they want to get involved? R: Volunteer at the local shelters: Salvation Army, Mustard Seed, Turning Point, Sophie Sampson Center of Hope are always in need of volunteers.

Welcome to Homeless Coalition mtgs every other month.

St. Pete Task Force mtg every month. Full group every other month. Off months co-chairs meet. Next full mtg is January 9th at 3.30p at City Hall. All mtgs open to the public. These forums inform, see where you can help. Strong faith based committee working with churches, great resources for food, clothing, blankets.

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