Hillsborough County’s most recent attempt to off-load its countywide housing crisis to non-county agencies is unacceptable. It fails to address and meet the comprehensive housing needs of our most vulnerable neighbors. This could be phase one of a long overdue comprehensive, multi-phase housing solution. If not, the county’s current request for area agencies to provide emergency/bridge housing for eligible homeless residents is a flawed bridge going nowhere.
County officials have known of substandard housing conditions for at least 20 years. Our neighbors are homeless largely due to a lack of affordable housing and our county has a legal responsibility to provide humane housing options. However, few if any county leaders had the common sense or initiative to address the horrid housing options they were aware of for years.
The neglected, underfunded Homeless Recovery Program, the county’s anemic response to our housing crisis, didn’t work as a county unit. Without a significant overhaul and increased supports, it won’t work as a county cast-off. In addition to bridge housing, our county leaders must provide ample, affordable permanent housing.
As taxpayers, we deserve more from our leaders. As do our homeless and near homeless, including hundreds of families, many with children surviving for months at a time in cramped area motels at monthly rates of $1,500 and more.