Pinellas County approves $460,000 for tent city

11/06/07 Mitch E. Perry
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Less than a year after St. Petersburg Police sliced up homeless people’s tents, the city is of St. Pete back working on developing a new tent city.

This homeless encampment is a joint project, led by Catholic Charities, at the request of the Roman Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg. It will be located at the end of 126th Avenue North and there are plans for it to hold up to 250 people.

The public/private project called Pinellas Hope is getting funding from a number of sources, including Pinellas County. Today, the County Commission approved providing $460,000 to help with operating costs.

There was little debate among commissioners on the merits of the plan, but Commissioner Bob Stewart repeatedly asked before the vote, where the funding was coming from in the county’s budget?

Assistant County Administrator Mark Woodward said it came from savings from the county’s Human Services department.

Stewart questioned where the money would have gone if it hadn’t being devoted to the project and he wondered if it would be available next year if the project were to continue.

Woodward said if the project was considered a success and needs funding next year, it would come back before the board during the regular budgetary process.

Commissioner Ken Welch said that one reason why he liked the project is that the county was not funding it exclusively, specifically asking the contributions from a private citizen, Harry Stonecipher, the former CEO of Boeing.

In all, more than a million dollars are going into the Hope Pinellas Project. It is expected to open on Dec. 1.

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