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Tampa Opens Tent Shelter For Homeless During Coronavirus Pandemic

Mar 31, 2020

As Hillsborough County is under a “safer at home” order, those without a home are at risk.

To limit the spread of coronavirus, the city of Tampa has partnered with Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Petersburg to create a temporary outdoor shelter for the homeless.

The shelter, called "Hillsborough Hope," is located on vacant land owned by Catholic Charities.

via GIPHY  Shown is Margaret Rogers, Catholic Charities’ Executive Director. Credit Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg

"The Catholic Charities' mission is to serve those most vulnerable with dignity and compassion during their most vulnerable time," said Margaret Rogers, Catholic Charities’ Executive Director. "While everyone is ordered to stay at home and be safe, we realize that there's a population that don't have a home to go to."

Placing homeless residents in one location will allow the city and county to care for them as the virus spreads and food shortages continue.

“‘Hillsborough Hope’ is providing shelter to 100 homeless individuals in our community that have no place to go,” said Tampa Mayor Jane Castor. “This incredible initiative is offering potentially life-saving resources like shelter, food, and a place to shower, to those that need them most, and it will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community. The sooner we start taking care of each other, the sooner we can get through this together.”

The shelter is open with 100 individual 10-by-10 tents to maintain social distance between residents. Homeless adult men and women residing in Tampa are eligible to stay for 30 days.

The line of homeless waiting to be screened into Hillsborough Hope.
Credit Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg

Residents will be screened for sex-offender status. If admitted, they will be given a COVID-19 screening by BayCare Health, toiletries and a tent assignment. They will also be provided with mattresses, linens, blankets, a towel, and socks.

To stay organized each tent is given supplies in a labeled ziploc bag
Credit Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg

Catholic Charities are assigning support personnel, including case managers. In addition, they're providing two mobile shower trailers, six portable toilets, and one mobile laundry trailer for residents to use.

“We are pleased to partner with Catholic Charities because of its expertise in providing shelter and supportive services to the homeless at its Pinellas Hope (Clearwater) shelter,” said Vanessa McCleary, Housing and Community Development Manager for the city.

Tampa Police Department will provide security at the shelter.

Residents will receive three daily meals from private donations and Feeding Tampa Bay.

“All parties have recognized the need to provide this important service to the homeless of Tampa and while unfortunate, the coronavirus crisis has proven to be the catalyst to make it happen,” said Rogers. “We are grateful to the City of Tampa for their faith in our ability to replicate our work serving the homeless of Pinellas County.”

If you wish to help "Hillsborough Hope," you can donate online, through text by sending novelcorona to 91999, or by mail to 1213 16th Street North St. Petersburg, FL 33705.

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