A recent Gov. Rick Scott veto of a $1.3 million state grant dimmed the short-term prospects of building transitional housing, Tim Marks, president of the Tampa-based Metropolitan Ministries, said.
The charitable organization wanted to put up a two-story building with as many as 24 apartments at the Pasco branch at 3214 U.S. 19, primarily to shelter families in crises.
Pasco County commissioners have pledged $600,000 to supplement private donations for upgrades, the Rev. Dan Campbell said. The transitional housing building is estimated to cost about $2 million.
Campbell oversees Metropolitan's Pasco Outreach Center and remains active in the Coalition for the Homeless of Pasco after serving three years as its president. He helped write the 10-year plan to end homelessness in Pasco called "Pathways to Permanence."
As part of that goal, Metropolitan would like to feed more needy people, Marks said.
The mission provides breakfast at a meal site at 3244 U.S. 19.
Marks, however, envisions a kitchen with a capacity to cook up to 2,000 meals a day beyond just breakfast. Homeless individuals interested in culinary arts could learn job skills at the kitchen as well.
Construction could start by this fall, Marks said, as the first wing of the transitional housing unit. Campbell would like to see the kitchen ready by Thanksgiving.
Pasco remains "near the top" among Florida's 67 counties for the proportion of homeless people, Pasco Community Development Director George Romagnoli said at a May county commission meeting.
"They're not hidden," Commissioner Kathryn Starkey commented. "You see the homeless in many places." She hopes that "some guardian angels step up" to assist with expansion of the MM Pasco Outreach Center.
"I'm sure they'll try again next year," Romagnoli said about Metropolitan renewing its quest for a state grant.
The transitional housing unit would provide shelter for families while they seek employment and permanent housing. The two-story building would include a living room with computers for job searches and resume preparation. A plan also calls for a laundry area and playground.
For information call the Pasco Outreach Center at (727) 937-3268 or go online to www.metromin.org.
Kitchen project aims to feed 2,000 homeless meals a day