Hurricane Hermine wipes out 60+ tents at Pinellas homeless shelter

Homeless shelter eyes permanent solution after Hurricane Hermine wipes out 60-plus tents
Homeless shelter eyes permanent solution after Hurricane Hermine wipes out 60-plus tents

CLEARWATER, Fla. (WFLA)– Pinellas Hope in Clearwater is home for many people as they transition from homelessness, folks just like Judd Williams, who has been living there for 6 months.

“It’s a Godsend…if this place wasn’t here, I don’t know what I would have done,” said Williams.

Hundreds live in tents on the property, which each cost about $70, but only last for up to 6 months.

Dozens were destroyed by wind and rains this summer after Tropical Storm Colin in June and Hurricane Hermine in August.

“We lost about 70 tents in Colin and now, we lost another 60-65 tents in Hermine…what can tents withstand in wind conditions or rain and flooding? They can’t, so you have to secure this facility at every condition,” said Mark Dufva, the executive director.

The program had to shell out thousands of dollars to replace the tents in the wake of those storms, but they are now eyeing a more stable solution.

“Hope Cottages is the solution. You never have to worry a tropical storm or a hurricane ever again,” said Dufva.

Shipping containers can be converted into permanent apartments dubbed “Hope Cottages”, allowing residents to have a bed, air-conditioning and lights: all the tools needed for people to get back on their feet.

They aren’t cheap, about $30,000 a piece, but they are virtually indestructible, so the investment is well worth it to ensure residents have everything they need to succeed.

Thankfully, no residents were hurt when the storm hit.

Pinellas Hope first opened in 2007 and had a continuous waiting list, due to the overwhelming need in the county.

If you would like to learn more or donate, please visit https://pinellashope.org/hope-cottages/.

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