PASCO COUNTY, FL – The Coalition for the Homeless of Pasco County expects to learn this summer whether it will receive funding it needs to continue with plans to convert two buildings on the site of the former Boys and Girls Club on Youth Ln. in Port Richey into a family shelter and office space.
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“My expectation remains positive that the county has made this a priority and, clearly, it’s something that we need,” said coalition CEO Don Anderson.
You don’t have to look much farther than the vacant property itself to see that need on full display. A Spectrum Bay News 9 crew found a homeless camp set up at the back of one of the buildings this week.
“In the time that we were away, several individuals made their way into the building and are staying there,” said Anderson. “We’ve asked them to leave, and they’re very respectful, but it’s very, very common to find these camps in the county.”
The Pasco County Board of County Commissioners gave its approval last June for the coalition to lease the property. Anderson said since then, designs have been drawn up and a construction company has been selected
According to Anderson, the county made a prior commitment of $539,000 to the project, and now the coalition needs $812,000 more to fully fund the $1.35 million conversion.
“We don’t have resources in this order of magnitude beyond what the county could supply us with. There are some monies available, but really the monies that would be available to us would be more on the operational level,” Anderson said.
A county spokesperson confirms that the coalition has applied for Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds for the project. A review committee is expected to rank all of the applications, and then an action plan will be prepared for public comment and released in early July.
A public hearing will be held on July 9, and commissioners will vote August 6 whether to fund the proposed projects.
Anderson said the shelter will be able to accommodate 18-36 people belonging to families that are trying to work their way toward permanent housing. It will include nine bedrooms and a common area.
Anderson said the shelter is important for a number of reasons: the lack of affordable housing in the county, lack of homeless shelters, and the large amount of households found by the United Way’s latest ALICE Report (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) to include people who are employed, yet not earning enough to meet basic needs.
“Anytime these families and individuals are spending 50, 60, 70, 80% of their income on housing, we know it’s only a matter of time until they have a car problem, a health issue, and the find themselves out on the street,” said Anderson.
If the funding doesn’t come through, Anderson said the project won’t be able to move forward.