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Four homeless sex offenders living in tents outside Hialeah are suing to block Miami-Dade from dismantling their roadside encampment, arguing the county's own rules aimed at sexual predators have left them few options.

"Inhabitants of the encampment are not there by choice or circumstance," reads the request for an emergency injunction from unnamed plaintiffs. "They were forced into involuntary homelessness by Defendant's deliberate, long-standing policy of severely restricting where individuals formerly convicted of certain sexual offenses may reside in Miami-Dade County."

Hafsa Quraishi / WUSF Public Media

For most college students, Friday nights are a time to wind down and enjoy their youth. But for one group at the University of South Florida, it’s a time to give back to their community.

Project Downtown Tampa is a student organization that prepares and distributes food to the homeless once a week.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

Advocates in over 400 communities around the country are taking to the streets over the next few weeks to find and tally America’s homeless.

Daylina Miller/WUSF News

Hurricane Irma's full impact on the Tampa Bay is still not clear, but a Pasco County group wants to make sure the homeless stay safe, too.

Raine Johns runs the Coalition for the Homeless in Pasco County. She and a group of volunteers canvassed the county this week to let homeless individuals and families know what their hurricane shelter options are.

Miami police intends to involuntarily commit homeless individuals starting Friday if they refuse to move off the streets. Volunteer outreach teams through the Miami-Dade County Homeless Trust began placing individuals in shelters Tuesday morning and will continue those efforts through Thursday.

Florida homeless agencies are working to shelter people in the state. But proposed cuts to the Department of Housing and Urban Development could leave the state with fewer federal resources.

Tampa police say they arrested seven people from a group that was serving food to the homeless without a permit.


Homelessness is on the decline across the United States. In Florida, the homeless population decreased at a record rate in the last year, with more than 2,300 homeless Floridians moving into shelter in 2016. Invisible among these encouraging numbers, however, are the growing number of homeless teenagers in the state.

'Gimme Shelter' Hack-a-thon To Help Tampa Homeless

Jun 1, 2016
Swiss Open Cultural Data Hackathon 2015 at the Swiss National Library
Swiss National Library; Simon Schmid, Fabian Scherler

With roughly 2,000 people living on the streets of Tampa every day, a group of local web designers and programmers are hoping technology can help out homeless residents or the organizations that support them.

Christopher Collier / WUSF News

About 400 volunteers fanned out across Hillsborough County Thursday, searching for the homeless.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Florida’s Sarasota Chapter sued the city and its police department recently. The suit is on behalf of six homeless men. It alleges local ordinances discriminate against the homeless. 

M.S. Butler

When it comes to children, the definition of homeless includes more children than you may think.

Under the federal McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act children and youth who "lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence are considered homeless." That means children who are living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camp grounds -- or doubled-up with relatives or friends  --are homeless, as well as those who stay in shelters, on the street or in abandoned buildings.

Quincy Walters / WUSF News

On Thursday, Hillsborough County conducted its annual homeless count. Volunteers canvassed neighborhoods in an effort to get a better picture of the homeless population.

The Ybor Youth Clinic focused on an often unnoticed demographic: homeless youth. 

At 8 p.m., in a room of the YMCA on East Palm Avenue in Tampa, the Clinic's volunteers were on phones, looking for anyone under 25 without a home. 

Quincy Walters

The Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative held the grand opening for the Community Housing Solutions Center on Thursday. What makes this different from other homeless shelters is it gives both single men and women housing for four months - with the belief that a stable place to live is the first step to getting them off the streets. 

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has awarded Florida $84.3 million to support homeless services and housing facilities across the state.

Nationwide, HUD gave $1.8 billion, making Florida the sixth-largest recipient, trailing New York and California.

Using 300 volunteers who fanned out all over the county, the survey counted 2,243 “literally homeless men, women and children” down from 2,275 counted in 2013. In recent years, the counts were suspect because of surveying irregularities, such as including the jail population, which pushed the tally a few years ago to more than 10,000. This count was more meticulous, said initiative director Maria Barcus. and she had faith it was pretty accurate.

Pair Of Florida Republicans File Bill To Help Homeless

Feb 20, 2014
Blaise Gainey / WFSU

Homelessness eradication efforts would get more money under terms of a bill spearheaded by a pair of legislative Republicans.

Sen. Jack Latvala (R-Clearwater) and Rep. Kathleen Peters’ (R-South Pasadena) bills would offer annual challenge grants to agencies.

Latvala says the measure reestablishes funding the agencies once had access to.

Dalia Colón / WUSF

Victor "Joseph" Doxa was a successful businessman with a six-figure salary and 7,000-square-foot home.

Then came the Great Recession.

http://www.iamhopecafe.org/2011/08/homeless-statistics-in-hillsborough-county-2011/

It appears that Hillsborough County is moving to make changes in the way it deals with the homeless. 

County Administrator Michael Merrill recently observed how St. Louis has made progress in effectively dealing with the homeless. Merrill says working toward ending the problem needs to be a group effort.

With temperatures dropping into the 30s tonight, officials in Hillsborough and Pasco counties are opening cold-weather shelters. TBO.com says the Hillsborough County shelters are available for the homeless as well as people whose homes don't have adequate heat.

The Hillsborough County shelters are located:

Kathleen Peters Facebook Page

A "Homeless Social Marketing" campaign was unveiled at the Art Institute of Tampa today

The campaign was spearheaded by state Rep. Kathleen Peters of St. Petersburg and "True Face," a student design group at the Art Institute of Tampa. It's goal is to show the true face of homelessness today.

Rep. Peters says homelessness is an issue throughout the state.

MiraclePlace Gives Hope to Homeless

Jul 31, 2013
Yoselis Ramos

Metropolitan Ministries is renovating and expanding its MiraclePlace campus just north of downtown Tampa. It's home to homeless children and families until they can get back on their feet.

Families previously stayed in a 200-square-foot room with a couple of bunk beds against the walls and a small bathroom to the side. Mandy Cloninger of Metropolitan Ministries said the single light overhead was an example of how this small room wasn't enough.

waferboard

It was too good to be true. That's what some people thought after Hillsborough County found a drop in the number of homeless by nearly half in January. So they went back on the streets for another look.

So, almost 100 volunteers canvassed the county earlier this month.  The surveying included  birthdays, disabilities and the length of time they were on the streets. The final tally came to 2,275 homeless.

That's still a drop of 47 percent since the last count in 2011.

New Coalition CEO Maria Barcus says she was not part of the organization for the initial count. 

This week volunteers led by the Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County ventured into Tampa and Brandon to conduct a count of the homeless population for the second time.

Bay Pines VA

Here’s an opportunity for homeless veterans in Pinellas County, as well as veterans in need of help with employment, medical care or legal issues.

A "Stand Down" is scheduled Saturday, April 6, 2013, from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m at Bay Pines VA, 10000 Bay Pines Blvd., Bay Pines, Fla.

Sarasota Looks to Hire Caseworkers for Homeless

Feb 6, 2013

Run-ins between Sarasota's homeless and law enforcement has Sarasota's City-County Homeless Advisory Task Force looking for ways to better serve the homeless population.

Its most recent idea: hire caseworkers.

The three caseworkers would be overseen by City Manager Tim Barwin and Police Chief Bernadette DiPino.

Barwin says hiring the caseworkers would help homeless individuals connect with mental health and substance abuse services.

This week, hundreds of volunteers hit the streets of Hillsborough County to count the number of homeless residents, the Tampa Bay Times reports. Under federal law, counties must report the number of homeless every other year. At last check, 17,775 homeless people lived in Hillsborough County, contributing to the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area's distinction as the having the highest homelessness rate in the country, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. This year's data, due out in March, will be used to apply for funding and expand services that help the homeless.

The homeless Miami man who was mutilated and blinded by a bizarre attack May 26 says he wants no more repair surgeries because they hurt.

ACLU Accuses Sarasota Police of "Bum Hunting"

Nov 27, 2012

Sarasota police were accused today of going on "bum hunts" against the city's surging homeless population.  The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the city in a class action suit on behalf of the city's homeless. The ACLU released transcripts of police messages referring to "bum hunting'' and dressing up as "bums."

The ACLU held a news conference today, accusing Sarasota of waging a  "war on the homeless."

The Tampa Epoch Publishes May Issue Despite Doubts

May 1, 2012

The May issue of the homeless newspaper The Tampa Epoch was issued Tuesday to vendors putting to rest doubts about its future, in the wake of its publisher's death.

After Tampa City Council banned panhandling on city streets in November last year, Bill Sharpe took the initiative and thought outside the box. A loophole in the ordinance allowed newspapers to be sold everyday on city streets. That meant Sharpe could publish a newspaper specifically for panhandlers.

The Tampa Epoch was born.