Controversial homeless shelter to open doors this week | Events
Clearwater, Florida -- This week, preparations of the controversial Pinellas Safe Harbor homeless shelter will be completed and the facility, which is operated by the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office, will be open to those in need.
Tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., local service providers, elected officials, and project partners are invited to a preview and tour of the facility the day before it opens. The event will be hosted by Sheriff Jim Coats and speakers will include St. Petersburg Mayor Bill Foster.
It will be an opportunity for all involved to see the facility, which was previously a county jail and has attracted protestors, including one rally organizer who compared it to "Japanese internment camps that happened in WWII."
Then on Thursday, Jan. 6th at noon, the doors will be opened to the homeless. Program Coordinator, Lt. Sean McGillen says numerous homeless persons have already inquired about the facility, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. Those who arrive on Thursday will be seen by staff and assessed for entry - an intake process to continue on a daily basis.
Initial intake will be limited to 25 people, which will expand to 50 by the end of the week and then to 250 shortly after. The total capacity, which exceeds 250, will be phased in over time for a smooth transition. Men and women will share common facilities during the day but will be housed in separate units at night.
The primary goal of Pinellas Safe Harbor is to divert these homeless individuals from the criminal justice system, according to the Sheriff's Office, and provide them the assistance they require to be self-sustaining, productive citizens.