Sen. Jack Latvala earns homeless “champion” award

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State Senator and local political powerhouse Jack Latvala has earned two awards for his work supporting homeless initiatives.

The Florida Institute on Homelessness and Supportive Housing and the Florida Coalition for the Homeless jointly named Latvala their 2014 Champion on homelessness.

“I am honored to receive the ‘Homeless Champion Award’, and I will continue my commitment to ensuring that our state provides adequate resources and opportunities for those who do not have a place to live,” Latvala said.  “I am also very proud of the great work that both the Florida Institute on Homelessness and the Florida Coalition for the Homeless have done throughout our state, and to be recognized by them is a great honor.”

Latvala has worked with both counties and statewide groups on issues affecting the homeless. He sponsored Senate Bill 1090 creating a pool of state grant funding for local homeless programs. Latvala also sponsored legislation that affords healthcare access to homeless kids as well as take control of their own legal matters. In addition to legislation, Latvala also led efforts to enhance rights for homeless youth.

Latvala is up for re-election this midterm season, but is considered a shoo-in to retain his seat. He’s being challenged by fringe Tea Party Libertarian Tonay Caso who led the ill-advised fight against water fluoridation that led to the ousting of two Republican County Commissioners.

Janelle Irwin has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. She also hosts a weekly political talk show on WMNF Community radio. Janelle formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a diehard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and the ongoing Pier debacle. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also the devoted mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder. To contact, email