Hillsborough Commission hears plan for homeless

04/02/08 Mitch E. Perry
WMNF Drive-Time News Wednesday | Listen to this entire show:

Today homeless advocates came before the Hillsborough County Commission to see if they could help fund a program that will provide the homeless with voice mail and identification, that will help them gain employment.

Dr. Tom Atchison is pastor of the New Life Pentecostal Church of God and New Beginnings of Tampa, and vice president of HOPE, the Hillsborough Organization of Progress and Equality. He asked commissioners to make an initial commitment of $125,000, which they say would pay for 1,000 voice-mail accounts and 1,400 identification cards.

Rick Self lives in Tampa. He said when he was out on the streets, he would have welcomed a chance to get proper identification and access to voice mail as a ways of getting a job.

Ultimately, Self he learned about the New Beginnings program, where he was fed, and provided $10 so he could get a proper ID.

Lee Hoffman described himself as a former homeless person who is now an activist for the homeless. He put his thoughts down on paper before reading it aloud to the Board.

County Commissioner Kevin White said he was open to such a program, saying that if a person is arrested for any type of infraction, even a minor one, without legal identification, they end up being thrown in the slammer, which ultimately costs all Hillsborough tax payers.

Mark Sharpe said he’s been working with the Homeless Coalition for over a year.

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