Clearwater Commission Questions Homeless Funding
by Bill Lopez
CLEARWATER - Approximately one-thousand homeless men find overnight shelter and assistance each year in Clearwater provided by the Clearwater Homeless Intervention Project, a 501C3 charitable organization. Known as CHIP, the organization operates on a $611,000 budget funded by the state, county, City of Clearwater, Salvation Army and Society of St. Vincent de Paul.
The organization seeks to focus the efforts of the entire community in providing direct shelter care, case management and behavior monitoring to the homeless in Clearwater and Pinellas County.
In addition to overnight accommodations with 67 beds, it operates a day center that served 2,500 men and over 700 women last year. Due to a shortfall in funding, CHIP is seeking an additional $119,000 from the City of Clearwater to continue its day center operations.
The city has been a principal supporter of CHIP since 1998 when the organization was founded to care for an increased homeless population in the city. Earlier this year the city provided $115,900 principally from the police contraband fund for its operation accounting for about 25% of current funding.
According to Clearwater Police Chief Sid Klein, who was instrumental in establishing the homeless service organization in 1998, the center will have to close its day operations and lay off the workers without the additional funds. This would leave about 100 homeless people with no place to go during daytime hours.
There is no other day program in the downtown area that serves single adult males who are homeless, Klein said. About ten years ago, police, city officials and local business in the area became frustrated over complaints about the homeless from downtown property owners that could not be addressed other than placing homeless people in jail.
That problem was greatly alleviated with the founding of CHIP and city officials and the police are now concerned about the return of that same problem. Nevertheless, funds are extremely tight in all areas of the city's budget. Councilmember Carlen Petersen said during the commission's Tuesday work session that many nonprofits in the city are also in need of additional funding and it is difficult to select one over another.
The commission tabled the item for further review and will deal with the matter in its next regular commission meeting.
Contact Bill Lopez at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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