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Leaders will gather to help Tarpon's homeless

Estimates say more than 100 people live on the city's streets. Advocates and officials want to see that number dwindle.

By EILEEN SCHULTE, Times Staff Writer
Published October 16, 2007


Homelessness has become so critical in Tarpon Springs that civic and government leaders plan to hold an all-day workshop Friday to discuss the issue.

"There are a lot of needs that are not being met," said Tom Henderson, a local advocate for the homeless and a member of St. Timothy's Lutheran Church, which offers food to those in need.

Kip Corriveau, the director of the Salvation Army's social services program and a member of the Pinellas County Coalition for the Homeless, said there are more than 100 people living on the streets of Tarpon Springs.

For a city the size of St. Petersburg, that would be a fairly low number. But for Tarpon Springs, "it is a huge stressor," he said.

Corriveau hopes the work session will produce a workable solution. Whether that means building a shelter he doesn't know. "This is a planning meeting."

Expected to attend are Mayor Beverley Billiris; George Bolden of the Pinellas Coalition for the Homeless; Stephanie Dobbs of Directions for Mental Health Center; Pat Weber of the Tarpon Springs Housing Authority; the Rev. Curt Snare of St. Timothy's; Eddie Hayden of the Tarpon Springs Police Department; and Bill Vasiliou of the Shepherd Center, among others.

It will be facilitated by Beth Eschenfelder, an assistant professor at the University of Tampa.

The group hopes to determine what prevents homeless people from finding permanent housing in Tarpon Springs, what new programs need to be developed and which existing services need to be improved or expanded.

The meeting will be at the public safety building on Huey Street.

For years, the homeless in Tarpon Springs have been cared for by ministries and agencies working independently of one another, Henderson said.

"We want to bring them all under one umbrella," he said.

Already in the works is a drop-in center and a branch of Community Health Centers of Pinellas, which will be constructed next year to help low-income and homeless people.

"We can't keep our heads in the sand," said Billiris. "We have homeless."

Eileen Schulte can be reached at or 727 445-4153.

[Last modified October 15, 2007, 21:53:32]

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