PORT RICHEY, Fla. – The Coalition for the Homeless of Pasco County is working to turn vacant buildings on the site of a former Boys & Girls Club in Port Richey into a housing services center and family rehousing program.
- Rehousing program could serve up to 8 families at a time
- Families relocated into affordable housing within 45 days
- Plan for center revised due to cost, location limitations
"The focus here will be on those that are highly motivated and expressing an interest in finding a house. This is particularly true with families - families with children,” said Coalition CEO Don Anderson.
The rehousing program would serve up to eight families at a time who would be relocated into affordable housing within 45 days. Anderson said as many as 50 families a year could be served through the program.
This is a change from a plan residents spoke out about last year. The coalition originally planned to establish a homeless navigation center that would house up to 75 single individuals in the building.
Anderson said cost was one factor that caused the change of plans. He also said the location isn’t the best place for a shelter for individuals.
In addition to the rehousing program, a second county building on the property would be converted into a Housing Services Center. The coalition would relocate its offices there, and clients would also be able to access other agencies that offer a range of services.
“This is a project that’s had support from the majority of the commission. There have been a lot of community partners supportive of this project,” said Pasco County Administrator Dan Biles.
That support hasn’t been unanimous. Along with concerned residents, Commissioner Jack Mariano wasn’t in favor of the original plan.
“I thought that was going to be detrimental to the shopping center that’s right next door and just spent a whole bunch of money revitalizing and is doing very well,” Mariano said. “Also, the residential community across the way has some fears about what was going to happen.”
When it comes to the family rehousing program, Mariano said he thinks this is a role Metropolitan Ministries already fills. He said he’d like to see the commission send funding its way.
“Metropolitan Ministries for two years hasn’t been funded by the commission, partly because they wanted to hold onto money for the navigation center,” said Mariano. “I think if we increase their capacity, they’ve already got a kitchen in place, they’ve got a great support system in place, they’re doing a phenomenal job. They could take more families in and put them to great use right there with existing structure.”
Mariano said the county should also focus on creating more affordable housing, like that planned in Habitat for Humanity’s Leisure Lane project.
All are in agreement on the need for homeless services in Pasco. According to Anderson, the county’s last point-in-time count reported to HUD found there were 2,500 homeless individuals in Pasco.
Of those, 1,800 were part of a family. The latest ALICE Report – or Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed – from the United Way found more than 80,000 households in Pasco were earning more than the federal poverty level, but not enough to afford the cost of living.
“I think the future is that we’ll see more and more families falling into this category,” Anderson said.
The public can learn more about the project at a stakeholder meeting scheduled for Wednesday, May 16, from 6 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the Board of County Commissioners conference room in New Port Richey.
The county’s planning commission will make a recommendation on the plan following its June 6 meeting.
A final public hearing is expected to be held at the board of county commissioners meeting on June 19. It will then be up to commissioners to decide whether to offer a lease to the coalition.