Tampa to give $500,000 for homeless shelter

06/07/12 Janelle Irwin
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Tampa City Council today approved a half a million dollar grant to Metropolitan Ministries to expand their housing shelter on North Florida Avenue. The project is expected to soar around 13 million dollars. Brian Evjen is a senior director for the organization. He said even though the city’s contribution only accounts for a small percent of the overall cost, it still represents a huge commitment.

The Tampa Bay area is home to one of the densest homeless populations in the country. Evjen said Metropolitan Ministries were having a hard time keeping up with increasing needs in a declining economy. But the new addition will put a roof over the heads of more than 200 families. That’s double what the organization can do now.

The entire process is expected to be completed by November of next year.

“It does seem that $500,000 is a minimal investment. But when you really back up and look at what the city can fund, that’s limited to hard construction dollars and in addition it’s limited to just the housing units. It starts to look a lot more impactful. We target families specifically because we believe that children suffer the most from homelessness and we believe we can break the cycle by addressing the families. We just believe that the need is more critical now than it has been ever in the past. We are expanding our facilities by adding 50 new residential units. We will more than double our capacity. These units will be slightly larger than the ones we have today. We’re using units that were originally built for emergency shelter use. We’re not using them for longer term care which is not really adequate so we’re going to be increasing the size of our housing units to make it a little more comfortable for our families. When we do that, our program is designed to accommodate the whole family’s needs while they stay with us. When we bring all those new resident families on board or online we also will be expanding our child care facility, our dining facility, and our counseling center. And the plan is to when we finish our new housing facility, to relocate the families living there at that time into the new building and then go back into the existing building and renovate that one as well.”

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