A property owner and nonprofit organization are trying to establish a temporary homeless facility on a 4-acre parcel in Gillespie Park.
The facility, planned for vacant property at 1003 N. Washington Boulevard, would provide a temporary shelter for homeless people. The nonprofit Trinity Without Borders would operate the shelter. The property is located adjacent to a railway north of Gillespie Park, near the intersection of 10th Street and U.S. 301
Vallerie Guillory, a volunteer with the Trinity Without Borders nonprofit, said the facility would be modeled after “Pinellas Hope,” a temporary shelter in St. Petersburg operated by the Catholic Charities Diocese of St. Petersburg. At Pinellas Hope, background checks are done on all the residents and case managers meet with them on a regular basis to set goals towards self-sufficiency. Because of the rows of tents at the shelter, Pinellas Hope has been referred to as “tent city.”
According to the Tampa Bay Times, “Since it opened in 2007, Pinellas Hope has grown into the county’s primary way station for the homeless. Spread out on 13 acres in an isolated, industrial area near Pinellas Park, it is run by Catholic Charities and receives more than $1 million in public funding each year.”
On Wednesday, April 17, code enforcement officers told Guillory that tents are not allowed on the 4-acre property that is zoned Commercial Intensive. As a result, several tents that were already established on the property were removed by the property owner on Thursday, April 18.
According to the Sarasota County Property Appraiser website, Rodney Dessberg has owned the property at 1003 N. Washington Boulevard since 1989.
Any type of transitional housing would require both a major conditional use and a site plan approval, both which would require an affirmative City Commission vote, said Gretchen Schneider, general manager of planning and development with the city. The project would also have to meet the regulations of the city’s building code.
As of April 18, no specific plans for the temporary shelter have been filed with the city.