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Tampa is opening a new permanent shelter for homeless residents

Frank Creel brings his belongings to his tent at the permanent shelter.
Bailey LeFever
WUSF Public Media
Frank Creel brings his belongings to his new tent at the permanent shelter.

The site will eventually house up to 300 people — for as long as they need to stay.

Homelessness is prevalent across the country, including in Tampa.

But area officials are working on solutions to bring residents out of poverty.

Some of Tampa's homeless residents began moving into tents at a new permanent shelter that opened Monday in East Tampa. The complex will eventually house up to 300 people — for as long as they need to stay.

The site is being run by the City of Tampa and Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Petersburg. Residents will live in tents for now, but the complex will start moving residents into cottages in February.

City of Tampa

The “Hope Cottages” are small structures that provide occupants with electricity, heat, and air conditioning. The shelter will also provide residents with support services such as daily meals, basic medical and dental care and counseling.

Tampa Mayor Jane Castor says the development will help move people out of poverty.

"This is one of the paths towards getting individuals back up on their feet and back out as productive members of our community," she said.

Castor says city leaders have discussed the project with Hillsborough County Sheriff Chad Chronister and could consider a similar effort within the county.

Frank Creel is one of the shelter's residents and a longtime Tampa resident who became homeless about four months ago.

On Monday, the 59-year-old moved into a tent at the shelter.

Creel lost his home after struggling with drugs. He says the tent will give him time to "reinvent and recharge himself."

"Yeah it's a tent, but it's my tent,” he said. “It's my apartment. It's my home. It's my mansion."

Creel said he's trying to get his life back to where it was a year ago. He'll get help from the services and support provided at the center.

“If you're trying to do the right thing, then this is the place to come and get your start,” he added.

Creel said he hopes to get his home, work — and life back.

Bailey LeFever is a reporter focusing on education and health in the greater Tampa Bay region.
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