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County funding to continue through 2018 for two of Pinellas’ biggest charities

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

Neither Pinellas Hope, nor Boley Centers, Inc., two of the area’s largest charities, need worry about county funding for the foreseeable future.

Last week, the Pinellas County Commission approved three years worth of funding for each organization.

The Boley Centers deal is for no more than $317,480 per fiscal year, for 36 months, or until Sept. 30 of 2018. It comes with two additional 12-month renewal options, which, if picked-up, would continue to fund the private, not-for-profit organization through the 2020 fiscal year. Do the math and that comes out to $1,587,400 in county funding over those five years.

County money will also help Boley Centers secure over $1.9 million in funding from the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development during the upcoming fiscal year, as Pinellas’ contributions represent part of a mandatory 25 percent local cash match Boley Centers needs in order for HUD to disperse its federal grant money.

More to the crux of the matter, Boley’s county cash will also support the operation of nine separate housing grant programs, all of which provide permanent, transitional or safe haven supportive housing for over 190 low-income and mentally-ill residents. The programs also offer on-site case management, which may include a connection to medical services, vocational training and job placement.

Like Boley Centers, Pinellas Hope also offers more than just housing for its occupants. The Clearwater based transitional housing shelter — run by the not-for-profit Catholic Charities — provides education, employment opportunities, access to health care, case management, and follow up services for the over 250 individuals and couples housed at its facility, all of whom are encouraged to work toward self sufficiency.

In statistical terms, throughout the first two quarters of the 2015 fiscal year, 664 individuals received shelter — which either comes in the form of a tent, or a small house known as a “casita” — and an average of 99.5 percent of those individuals engaged in supportive services, according to Pinellas’ Human Services Department.

Pinellas Hope’s county funding agreement, like Boley’s, is also for a period of 36 months, beginning on the Oct. 1 start to the 2016 fiscal year. It also has the same two one-year options for renewal written into it. However, Pinellas Hope has a county-dispersed bank account with a $500,000 per fiscal year cap, a figure which has been in place since 2010, despite the county having funded the organization since 2007. Should both one-year renewal options be taken, the county will have ended up funding Pinellas Hope for $2.5 million over the course of those five years.

Two interesting stipulations of the county’s funding agreement with both Pinellas Hope and Boley Centers: each organization must also maintain active participation with 2-1-1 Tampa Bay Cares, Inc., a crisis hot-line center, and with the Tampa Bay Information Network, a shared client management information system that measures effectiveness by collecting and monitoring data through a secure, centralized, web-based database.

Coincidentally, a funding agreement between the county and 2-1-1 Tampa Bay Cares was also recently established. It gives $325,000 per fiscal year to the 24-hour hotline, which specializes in crisis intervention, counseling, and referrals for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis.

In the first two quarters of the 2015 fiscal year, 2-1-1 answered over 20,000 phone calls and provided over 41,000 referrals or services, according to Pinellas’ Department of Human Services.

Devon Crumpacker is a Tampa Bay based writer and reporter for Extensive Enterprises Media. He primarily covers Pinellas County politics for SaintPetersblog.com, but also makes time to write the occasional bar review for FloridaBarTab.com. He lives in St. Petersburg with his fiance, Sydney. To contact, e-mail devon@floridapolitics.com, or visit his Twitter page @DevonCrumpacker.

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