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New shelter will open for women and children

A house at 3125 28th St. N will be the first of its kind to serve the northern part of St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park and the unincorporated Lealman area.

By JON WILSON

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 8, 2000


ST. PETERSBURG -- Stacked bags of concrete and an unhooked bathtub lying in a front room suggest this haven is a work in progress.

But Lynn Rogers says the shelter she is opening for women and children down on their luck will be ready by early December. And people who help Pinellas County's homeless say the shelter will help fill a critical need.

The house, at 3125 28th St. N, will be the first of its kind to serve the northern part of St. Petersburg, Pinellas Park and the unincorporated Lealman area.

"That's one of the reasons we applaud Lynn's effort," said Gregg Rose, president of the county's Coalition for the Homeless, an organization of social service agencies.

"It's really been a no-man's zone. It's a much-needed program," Rose said.

The coalition ranks emergency shelters as one of its top three needs. A 1999 survey showed an unmet need of 784 emergency beds for homeless families with children.

The shelter Rogers is opening will have 11 residents and a live-in housemother, who will help manage the premises. It will be for women and their children who are temporarily without a place to live.

The women might be leaving a bad domestic situation, but those in immediate danger of abuse will be referred to CASA, Rogers said.

Clients will have case managers and access to counseling and support, Rogers said. Most will be expected to stay about 30 days. Medical care will be available. Rogers projects that 80 percent of those completing the program will find permanent housing.

Rogers also directs the Mid-Pinellas Homeless Outreach drop-in center. She opened it a year ago at 4699 28th St. N, about a mile north of the new women's shelter.

It offers food, clothing and personal hygiene items. Clients can also have telephone privileges and can use the center as a mailing address.

It's providing about 400 services to individuals each month, Rogers said, noting that some people use the center more than once a month.

Opening a women's shelter was Rogers' goal all along, but it took her about a year to find a facility. Her plans won city approval Oct. 4, and she signed an $1,100-per-month lease for one year on Sept. 1.

Grants and contributions finance both the drop-in center and the shelter. Among the shelter's needs are playground equipment, bunk beds, storage sheds, small-size dresses and cash contributions.

Fundraisers are held from time to time, and Rogers says a seasonal one is coming up: Holiday planners can rent the services of a Santa for $99.

Rogers can be reached at 521-1577.

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