City of Tampa opens temporary tent city for homeless during pandemic

( City of Tampa )

There is a new effort to help the Tampa homeless community stay healthy in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The city partnered with Catholic Charities of Diocese of St. Petersburg to run a temporary homeless camp filled with tents. City officials don't want to disclose the exact location for safety reasons, but the organization says it is on a vacant land owned by the Catholic Charities.

The shelter opens Monday. The camp will run for 30 days to help up to 100 homeless people shelter in place. Each tent will be about six feet apart to maintain the required social distancing guidelines set by the CDC. On Friday, Hillsborough County's "safer-at-home" order went into effect.

“This incredible initiative is offering potentially life-saving resources like shelter, food, and a place to shower, to those that need them most, and it will help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in our community” says Mayor Jane Castor. “The sooner we start taking care of each other, the sooner we can get through this together.”

Volunteer sets up a tent at the temporary camp for the homeless. (City of Tampa)

Along with the tents, the site will include mobile shower trailers, a mobile laundromat and six portable toilets. The Tampa Police Department will offer security and case managers will also be available. 

Meals will be provided to the homeless, thanks to private donations and in partnership with Feeding Tampa Bay. Residents will also get three meals a day and, if needed, medical treatment. BayCare Health will help with health screenings.

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“All parties have recognized the need to provide this important service to the homeless of Tampa and while unfortunate, the coronavirus crisis has proven to be the catalyst to make it happen.”, said Margaret Rogers, Catholic Charities’ executive director. We are grateful to the City of Tampa for their faith in our ability to replicate our work serving the homeless of Pinellas County.”