TAMPA, Fla. — The City of Tampa has built a tent city that will house 100 homeless people during the safer-at-home order in Hillsborough County.
“We wanted to provide as many as we can with some form of housing," said Tampa Housing and Community Development Manager Vanessa McCleary.
For 30 days, Tampa will pay Catholic Charities Diocese of St. Petersburg to run the temporary tent city, called Hillsborough Hope.
If there's a need to extend the contract past 30 days, the city is prepared to do so for however long is recommended to slow the spread of the new coronavirus.
The location of the tent city was not provided by Tampa officials due to safety reasons.
Leaders feared if they didn't act fast, COVID-19 could spread quickly through the homeless community and beyond.
“As resources were drying up because people were staying home, restaurants aren’t cooking, so a lot of the places that they may have gone for food, wouldn’t be there which would cause them to move around. And as we know the virus can live on surfaces for quite some time," said McCleary.
With the 100 tents, the site will include a mobile laundromat, mobile shower trailers and six portable toilet rentals. The homeless will also be fed three meals a day and medical treatment will be on site as well.
Hillsborough Hope is open to any homeless person except for registered sex offenders.
Anyone who shows up to the camp will be screened for coronavirus. If someone presents symptoms, they will be referred to BayCare Health System.
“They will be testing folks to ensure the virus doesn’t spread," said McCleary.
Each tent is spaced about 5 feet apart and will only house one person. The Catholic Charities will also supply the residents with water bottles and hand sanitizer.
“They’re in individual tents which keeps it from spreading and they’re not in a enclosed shelter where they’re breathing the same air and possibly touching the same things," said McCleary.
A numbered wrist band will be handed out to those who are accepted into Hillsborough Hope. The wrist band will correspond to the number of their tent.
Anyone who is accepted will have to adhere to the safer-at-home order put in place by the county. There will be a 5 p.m. curfew for the residents.
City leaders are working to make sure the people who come to Hillsborough Hope don't return to the street. They're trying to get them more permanent housing.
As tents fill up, Catholic Charities is now asking for donations from the community. They need money and supplies including items like toiletries, socks, shoes, snacks, water bottles, paper products, and cleaning supplies.