By Tamas Mondovics
Hillsborough County in collaboration with the Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative (THHI) and the City of Tampa joined forces on behalf of homeless veterans in the Tampa Bay area on Veterans Day.
Appropriately called “Operation: Reveille,” the effort aimed to end homelessness for all Tampa and Hillsborough County area vets by providing permanent, supportive housing. The event was held at the Port Tampa Bay, Terminal #6 on 1333 E. McCay St.
According to Hillsborough County’s Point-In-Time count of homeless individuals from February 2014 amounted to 2,275, of which 125 were reported to be veterans sleeping on the streets, in emergency housing or in a place not fit for human habitation.
Operation: Reveille (the French word for “wake up”) is designed to provide up to 12 months of housing and wrap-around supportive services for veterans and their families in supportive housing.
“We expect to reduce the number of vets sleeping on the street by half today,” said Tampa-Hillsborough Homeless Initiative CEO Antoinette Hayes Triplett the day of the event.
The program is supported with $1.3 million of public and private funding to provide pre-furnished homes stocked with food and household supplies.
Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative Chief Operating Officer Antonio S. Byrd was pleased to announce the results of the day-long event, which brought together close to 300 volunteers along with members of federal, state and local government agencies, faith-based organizations, non-profit agencies and businesses.
Byrd reported that 90 people in total responded to the program and that out of the 79 that were eligible for the program, 51 homeless veterans received fully furnished homes.
“At this time, we still have 28 homeless veterans that need homes and we are looking for assistance to help house these last 28 veterans,” he said.
Byrd added that in addition to housing, based on the veteran’s needs, they will be offered intensive case management, health, mental health and substance abuse treatment as well as Social Security and veteran benefits. Employment opportunities, job training, legal assistance, financial counseling, and transportation will also be available, all of which in hopes of helping local veterans to get back on their feet. For more information, visit www.HomelessofHC.org or call 223-6115.