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Experts Project Increase in Tampa Homeless Population, Hold Meeting

TAMPA, Fla. (CW44 News at 10) - The City of Tampa is working to address the homelessness issue after anticipations it could grow worse. City of Tampa officials, community members and subject matter experts met Tuesday evening to talk about how the housing crisis may impact those numbers. Members of the discussion say a Tuesday night meeting in Ybor is helping alert the public of what services are available.

"If they don't have the information, then their minds go to the worst possible places. It's a challenge," said Louis Ricardo with Catholic Charities who also oversees Tampa Hope, a permanent homeless shelter.

Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative's Antoinette Hayes-Triplett says with population growth, the homeless count has been stagnant or decreased over the years. But now, they're being priced out of the market.

"With the rising cost of rent and inflation, it's very difficult," she said.

"'My rents are going up. I'm not going to be able to afford it'. Everything, 'my insurance is going up'," said Ricardo about responses he's hearing from current residents. This year's homeless count due in the coming weeks is causing nervousness.

"I anticipate we will see an increase in homelessness in our community," said Hayes Triplett. "The buyers that are coming and investors that are coming from outside the area are putting cash down, no inspections and so we're going to have to shift the way we're doing business."

So with current projects in the works, community organizations are now asking for your help.

"We were cast with building 8 to 10 additional locations of affordable housing so we're in the process of doing that," said Ricardo. "In a shelter like ours, we need donations, we need food, blankets, toiletries."

Hayes-Triplett adds that 99.9% of people in Hillsborough County have a place to lay their heads tonight while .1% are left on the street.

"If everyone in our community gave point one percent of their salary, we could really house every homeless person in our community," said Hayes-Triplett. "What I would like to see is everyone in the community working on housing our most vulnerable neighbor."

You can now view that full meeting on the City of Tampa Facebook page.

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