Sarasota News Leader

05/02/2014

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How many free meals does it take to turn one homeless person into a productive member of society? Thanks to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, there is a method to solve that equation. Pinellas Safe Harbor (PSH) is promoted as the model shelter for indigents. It is a "come-as- you-are" facility offering a full gamut of social services to help people get back on their feet. Run by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office (PCSO), it opened on Jan. 6, 2011. Since that date, the PCSO has kept detailed statistical records on it. Those three years offer insights into homelessness and vagrancy on the west side of Tampa Bay. Because Pinellas Safe Harbor is the model proposed for a homeless shelter in Sarasota, the PSH experience provides a window into what Sarasota can anticipate if it opens a sim- ilar facility. WHO IS HOMELESS? PSH is not a jail. But it is administered by dep- uties familiar with jails and the record keeping required in those facilities. The deputies at PSH are joined by 17 social service providers from private and public agencies, plus repre- sentatives of the Public Defender's Office and the St. Petersburg Police Department, all try- ing to put lives back together one by one. The Pinellas Safe Harbor near Clearwater has been called a model for a Sarasota County homeless shelter. Image courtesy Pinellas Safe Harbor ANALYSIS: STATISTICS FROM THE CLEARWATER SHELTER SEEN AS A MODEL RAISE HARD QUESTIONS ABOUT ASSISTANCE TO THE HOMELESS THE PINELLAS PARADOX By Stan Zimmerman City Editor NEWS & COMMENTARY

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