The homeless in east Pasco county are facing another stumbling block on the way to working toward a better way of life for themselves.
An advisory panel said that the only homeless shelter here should close because it is a poor fit for the surrounding neighborhood. Several neighbors of the church have voiced complaints to the county Planning Commission from instances of homeless people trespassing on their property to generally feeling unsafe.
The church, located at 34921 Chancey Road in Zephyrhills, needs a conditional-use permit to operate the residential facility and when asked what is needed to obtain this, Pastor Tim quickly replied, “Action!” without hesitation.
On Wednesday, March 7, the Planning Comission voted to recommend closing the shelter immediately, though the county commissioners will have the final decision. They have scheduled a meeting in Dade City on April 11, 2012 to consider the issue.
Gina LaRock was in the kitchen at the church Wednesday night, serving a wonderful spaghetti dinner to the public and took the time to tell of the experience she and her family went through when they were faced with the difficulty of being homeless. Gina stated that there was a whole lot of good that she and her family had gotten from the assistance of the church Transition Program. She questioned the validity of the complaints of the neighbors due to stereotyping, “how could they know if that person was a resident here?” It is sure that they were not wearing a badge that identified them as being members of the Chancey Road Christian Church Transition Program. The complaintants only assumed this to be the case.
Gina had lost her job and subsequently the bills began to add up and their home was foreclosed on. Since being in the Transition Program, she has found suitable employment and in one-years time has been promoted 4 times at her job and is now able to provide adequately for her family. “I must have done something right for them to promote me 4 times in such a short period of time”, she stated. She owes her good fortune to the Transition Program and the help she received from the church.
Several pastors spoke in favor of the project, as well as Zephyrhills officials. City Council member Jodi Wilkeson told Tampabay.com Staff Writer, Lee Logan, “These are kind of the elite of the homeless. They are transitioning from being in a very bad place to being in a wonderful place.” The residents agree to be part of a year-long program to find work and get their lives back on track. The program provides numerous resources for program participants, has a viable set of rules and conducts background checks.
We can not allow the homeless to suffer by this program being shut down. This is the kind of help that should be given to others in need and that want to work toward a brighter future for themselves and their families. Truly there is a moral obligation on everyone’s part to help with whatever it takes, whatever each of us can to do to allow this program to survive. To help this happen is just the next right thing for all of us to do.