Pasco County homeless shelter may be forced to shut down

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A homeless shelter in Pasco County may soon be forced to permanently shut down. The Holy Ground Homeless Shelter has served the community for decades, but now may have to close for good because the property owner wants to sell the land.

Roughly 40 people -- including families with children as young as two years old -- will have to soon find a new place to stay. The owner of the land the shelter sits on wants to sell, putting an end to three decades of service to the community.

"I was caught by surprise," shelter director Lisa Barabas-Henry said. "I feel completely confused and completely lost."

For the last 27 years, the Holy Ground Homeless Shelter has been home to its director Lisa Barabas-Henry as well as thousands of others

"Babies have been born here," Barabas-Henry said, "and clients have passed away here."

But now the shelter's future is in jeopardy after Barabas-Henry learned from her landlord last month that she want's to sell the land.

Barabas-Henry tried to buy it, but -- according to her -- she won't sell it to her unless she also buys an empty plot of land across the street -- which she also owns.

"I'm about to be a statistic," Barabas-Henry said. "I'm about to be homeless. After 27 years of serving the community, I'm going to be homeless?"

Barabas-Henry lives at the shelter -- along with her family -- including her sister who suffered a stroke and is now on hospice. The family is now grappling with the idea they'll have to find a new place to stay.

"I can't grasp that in my brain," Barabas-Henry said. "That how I can give so much and then to be left standing alone hurts. It really does."

Barabas-Henry pays $2,300 a month in rent to provide housing, food and counseling to her clients in need.

According to her, she's the only shelter in the area that doesn't require paperwork for it's clients, opening their arms to anyone in need. No questions asked.

"If you don't want us here," Barabas-Henry said. "I'm willing to go if I could find another place. Just give us time."

Barabas-Henry says she has to be out by November 30th. She asked the landlord to give her till January 1st, but was told no. She's now trying to get help from the county commission. She's set to speak about this issue at their next meeting Tuesday at 10 a.m.

FOX 13 has reached out to the landlord for comment, but have not heard back.

Anyone interested in helping Barabas-Henry and her clients find a new place to stay, can contact attorney Roland Waller at 727-847-2288.