Tampa Council members express frustration about their lack of input on homelessness

As Council was formally presented with the Hillsborough County plan Thursday afternoon, a couple of Council members weren't mollified.


Council member Yolie Capin called on a member of the public named Donny Rhode to address the board. Rhodes said earlier during the public comment portion of Thursday's agenda that he himself had been in a meeting with Commissioner Murman, where he said he had heard the commissioner say explicitly that Mayor Bob Buckhorn does not want council members involved with the group. Capin called that news "very discouraging."


(Buckhorn made his feelings clear explicitly in an interview with CL back in February when he said ?This is a complicated problem. It?s not nearly the case of running out and finding a vacant house and sticking people in there with no predicate being laid, no budget being laid. City Council is not going to be involved in the creation of a homeless center.?)


Frank Reddick has already shown over the past year that he is willing to challenge Mayor Buckhorn when the occasion arises. He began asking why was Commissioner Murman the sole person with control of whether or not a member of Council could be on this public/private committee?


The city of Tampa's Growth Management Director Thom Snelling explained what has been the Buckhorn administration's mantra regarding the discussion of homelessness - that it's the county who is charged with the responsibility of providing such services, not the city.


By happenstance a private attorney involved with the ad hoc group on homelessness who was in the audience for another issue - Kami Corbett with the law firm of Foley and Lardner, stepped up and addressed the council. She explained the nature of the group, saying they they did not want to compete with groups like the Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County or Metropolitan Ministries, but instead wanted to be a support group of sorts to begin working on the issue.


Reddick asked if she could go back to the group and ask about a member of the Council be allowed to serve on the committee, "irregardless of what the mayor has to say."


Corbett said the group has essentially disbanded until their first project is completed, but sure, she'd put in a good word for the council.


Council woman Mary Mulhern, who has been as outspoken as anybody regarding wanting to do something positive for the homeless community, was absent from the afternoon discussion.

click to enlarge Tampa Council members express frustration about their lack of input on homelessness - Yolie Capin
Yolie Capin
Tampa Council members express frustration about their lack of input on homelessness

click to enlarge Tampa Council members express frustration about their lack of input on homelessness - Yolie Capin
Yolie Capin
Tampa Council members express frustration about their lack of input on homelessness
  • Yolie Capin

Earlier this month, Hillsborough County Commissioner finally learned about the details of a plan to help the homeless conceived by a group of private and public officials, including Commissioner Sandy Murman.

That plan is to buy and rehab a 24-unit affordable housing development located off of Fowler Avenue in the University area of North Tampa. Officials say that after that is completed, they'll begin the next project, relying on soliciting funds from the private sector for their ultimate goal of creating 500 units of housing over the next five years.

Those plans come as the city of Tampa has has contended with an increase in homelessness, leading in part for the Council to pass a partial ban on panhandling last year.

But that ban - controversial in some quarters - has been the sole extent to what the Council has done in any way to or for the homeless population. That reality has led several members to express their frustration about their inability to do more throughout 2012.

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