Tampa Hope opened on December 13, 2021, in partnership with the City of Tampa, to provide shelter to the homeless community members of the City of Tampa.
Catholic Charities, in partnership with the City of Tampa opened a temporary 100-person shelter in March 2020 to keep homeless adults off the street and safe during the height of the COVID pandemic. Located on property owned by Catholic Charities, the 100-person shelter housed 210 people during its two months of operation. We successfully placed 97 into permanent housing and had NO positive COVID-19 cases.
Mayor Jane Castor and her Chief of Staff, John Bennett, along with Catholic Charities Executive Director, Maggie Rogers, agreed the city needed a permanent shelter. Mayor Castor praised Catholic Charities saying, “I want to commend Catholic Charities for carrying out this important work of mercy…the city looks forward to working with you to establish a permanent shelter in Tampa.”
After a year of searching for the right property, the present site, a few miles east of Ybor City, was purchased by Catholic Charities in October 2021. Because the need was immediate, the shelter opened well before permanent facilities were in place. Since opening, we have found that well over 50% of the residents are chronically homeless (defined by the Department of Housing and Urban Development as one who is homeless 12 months or has had 4 bouts of homelessness totaling 12 months over 3 years). Amazingly, roughly 80% had never been identified as homeless and were thus not entered into the database used to track the homeless and assist in managing services for them.
In order to open within weeks, we used the existing building for office space for conducting intake interviews and for case managers to meet with clients. We assembled tents placed on wood platforms that were built by various teams of volunteers, including from the Tampa Fire Department. We rented port-o-lets as well as mobile laundry and mobile shower trailers. Our ultimate goal is to house up to 300 men and women. We are presently housing 100 individuals in the tents. The long-term goal is to house the guests in the 100 tents and add 200 Hope Cottages™, pre-fabricated metal units that when assembled will provide individuals with an air conditioned, heated space with a desk, a bed, a locking door, light and electricity. The total Year One cost is $8.7 million ($2.1 for operations and $2.3 million for the property and $4.3 million for capital expenditures – rehab existing structures, build new structures, purchase the 200 Hope Cottages, and upgrade the property’s power grid).
No shelter can be run successfully without community involvement. According to Maggie Rogers, “Partnerships are the life blood of our shelters. We rely on the expertise within the community to assist us in helping our clients achieve success.” Accordingly, we have developed partnerships with individuals, faith-based groups, other social service agencies and companies throughout the community. Some are continuations of relationships we developed during the temporary shelter’s operation. Others are new. Of these, Feeding Tampa Bay has been a critical partner in helping feed the guests with daily dinners. Matt Spence, their Chief Program Officer, echoes these sentiments saying, “Feeding Tampa Bay is proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with Catholic Charities serving the homeless and vulnerable in our community…food and shelter…together establish a foundation upon which lives can be rebuilt.” We also use food and cash donations to provide the other daily meals. Volunteers pick up meals and conduct workshops on life skills as well as job hunting. We are fundraising and completing plans to build new the facilities (e.g., kitchen, bathrooms, computer lab) needed to serve the 300 guests. Between self-funding, city contributions and private donations – with a lead gift of $1 million – we have raised over $5.1 million of the $8.7 million.
As we push to complete our expansion plans and raise the remaining funds, please pray for us. We welcome your support in volunteering, advocacy, and donations. In no time, with your support, we will be serving 300 of our less fortunate neighbors, returning hope to their lives.
Tampa Hope provides a safe living environment for homeless individuals; providing meals, clothing, counseling and more as they work to return to the path of self-sufficiency. Click here to learn more! To donate cash now, text TAMPAHOPE to 91999. Click here to donate!