A Home, But No Help

Number 26174
Subject Homelessness
Source Tampa Bay Times
State Florida
Year 2013
Publication Date July 10, Sept. 8, Sept. 28, Oct. 27, Nov. 24, Dec. 23, Dec. 29
Summary As rates of homelessness were soaring in Hillsborough County, the local government’s program for housing the poor was in crisis. It was paying millions of dollars to slumlords who housed the homeless, including veterans and families with small children, alongside sex offenders in filthy, crime-ridden and bug-infested buildings. It was sending the sick and dying to a squalid, unlicensed home where they were abused and they languished without care. It even ensured, through a perverse misuse of a federal reimbursement plan, that a few homeless people who qualified for federal disability money stayed destitute by garnishing most of their government checks. All of this was going on, but nobody --- not top government leaders nor the taxpayers who funded it --- knew the extent of the problems. That all changed when the Tampa Bay Times started reporting on the program. A series of stories by reporters Will Hobson and Michael LaForgia brought greater transparency to local government. The stories resulted in sweeping reforms and gave the area’s vulnerable homeless a voice for the first time in decades.
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