Tampa Mayor criticized for tweet targeting a local non-profit that feeds the homeless

Posted at 10:27 PM, Nov 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-19 23:16:01-05

TAMPA, Fla. — People who live in the V.M. Ybor neighborhood of Tampa said they were shocked to see Mayor Bob Buckhorn making a public statement about a non-profit that serves food to the needy on Nebraska Avenue.

In a Monday morning social media post, Mayor Bob Buckhorn tweeted at Trinity Cafe, asking the question, “how about being a better neighbor?” The tweet came with an attached image of people outside Trinity Cafe at 2801 N. Nebraska Avenue waiting outside. One person appears to be passed out in a bush in the middle of the sidewalk.



Residents that live near the non-profit that serves a three-course, chef prepared meal to people in need tell ABC Action News they agree with the mayor’s tweet. But, took issue with what they described as Buckhorn's "inaction about the problem."

“Well, if he’s getting vocal now I applaud him,” Kelly Grimsdale said. “I have not yet once heard from his office in probably the thousand emails I sent over the years.”

ABC Action News requested Tampa Police calls for service to Trinity Cafe. Since Jan. 1 to present, police received 25 calls. A majority were for trespassing but a few included drug use and battery. The area surrounding Trinity Cafe showed more severe crimes for robbery, auto theft, arson, and burglary.

"Even though the mayor tweeted what he tweeted, but everybody are not on drugs, some people are actually homeless, and sleep have nowhere to go,” Pamela Holmes said.

Holmes, nearly in tears told ABC Action News she was homeless and ate at Trinity Cafe almost every single day. 

“This place is awesome,” Holmes said.  “This is a good thing Trinity Cafe is doing.”

Holmes said more and more people that are homeless are converging on the area because of new developments in the city.  

“They got all these new buildings and new business which actually kicked us out,” Holmes said.  She said all the homeless are getting lumped together for a small group of people that are committing crimes.

“I’m not on drugs I just have nowhere to go,” Holmes said. 

The mayor’s office sent us this comment regarding the tweet:

Nonprofits providing for the needs of our less fortunate citizens fills a critical need in our community. At the same time, it is important to remember that these facilities and the clients they serve need to respect the surrounding neighborhood and not become a magnet for the types of behaviors that would deteriorate the quality of life for the hardworking homeowners that live there. I am certain that the new leadership that assumes its role in January is committed to working with the neighborhood to make the appropriate changes.

Trinity Cafe also sent us a statement when we asked about the mayor’s tweet.  But, their statement does not mention the mayor’s post.

Trinity Cafe serves a three-course, chef prepared meal to anyone in need, each and every day. 

We ask our guests for nothing in return, just to enjoy their time around our table.
Our commitment to our guest’s wellbeing and the surrounding community has been a cornerstone of our organization. We have diligently taken steps to support our neighborhoods as we have witnessed the changing needs in our community, from the first meal to over 1.4 million meals served to this day. 

Trinity Cafe’s dining room table has truly become a family table. This summer alone we served 15 percent more guests. More than 37,000 men, women, and children depended on us for their daily meal. We also provided more than 1,500 take-home meal packs for children to ensure they received a full day’s nutrition. 

Together with the solidarity and commitment of our team, volunteers and treasured support of our partners and the community, Trinity Cafe strives to be a gateway to positive change in the lives of the people we serve and those who serve by our side. We seek to enlarge our guests’ capacity for self-help and reconnect them to the broader community. 

If you have not experienced Trinity Cafe we invite you to join us for a tour or volunteer and serve at our tables yourself, much like the Mayor’s Youth Corp has served proudly for numerous summers at our Nebraska location.