Help for the Homeless?
Dear Editor: Recently there have been thoughtful discussions and concerns within our Gulfport community about homeless individuals either in our parks or beach area. Regardless how these individuals ended living outdoors within our city, they need our compassion and attention to ensure they are safe and are offered opportunities to get the social services they need. I have reached out to City of Gulfport elected officials and Police Chief Rob Vincent to request they seriously discuss a city plan that specifically addresses homelessness in the City of Gulfport.
This is not a request to create a social services type agency, but a sound triaging effort that takes into account the many county-based programs to assist the homeless, as well as inter-city collaborations already in place throughout Pinellas County. For example, the City of St Petersburg has a terrific and effective program called “Street Outreach Team.” In their webpage, they state: “Due to the success of the Street Outreach Team, four additional teams have been added in Pinellas Park, Tarpon Springs, Clearwater and Lealman.” Perhaps we can learn from these type of expanded programs and see what potential steps we can take right here in Gulfport. Perhaps in the next City of Gulfport budget process we can consider one less brand new police vehicle and dedicate some funds towards a Gulfport homeless program within our own Gulfport Police Department (how other cities do theirs).
Gulfport prides itself as an accepting city, welcoming diversity in all forms. Gulfport is also not immune to the struggles many face that may result in becoming homeless. My holiday wish is for this little city by the bay to take on this challenge, as we do with many other things, that regularly shines a light on who we are. – Yolanda Roman