THE HOMELESS PERSONS STORAGE UNITS

In 2007, 15th Street North, on which SVDP is located, was "home" to more than 50 people who had gradually amassed large stockpiles of clothing, bedding, chairs and miscellaneous items that littered the sidewalks, creating eyesores and posing both health and safety hazards to passerbys.

This condition and similar problems elsewhere, prompted the adoption of City Ordinances that, among other restrictions, banned the placement of personal property on public rights-of-way. While determined to enforce the new law, the City also recognized that there had to be some place that people could store and safeguard their property.  The City initiated the concept of the Homeless Persons Storage Units and SVDP agreed to manage them. The first unit became operational in January 2008, the second in 2009.

 Two adjacent 8’ x 40’ leased trailers are positioned on SVDP property to the rear of the Food Center/Center of Hope off 4th Avenue North.  Unit # 1 is outfitted with 12 racks (six to a side) each with four shelves, and each shelf capable of holding four 18-gallon bins.  Unit #2 has six racks, each with three shelves, each capable of holding four bins for a total capacity of 264 bins. Over time because of heavy usage, a tendency to overload the receptacle and the extreme heat inside the trailers, many of the original bins have been damaged.  If approved, this SAF application for the continuation of the Storage Units program includes a provision to purchase at least 125 new bins based on historical needs.

The units, now open seven days a week, five hours a day, are managed by an SVDP employee who, as attendant, registers all new users and has them sign a Waiver of Liability form that relieves both the City and the organization of any responsibility for damage or loss of items stored. This staff member also provides clients with SVDP's "Ten Commandments of Service" that outline the rules for using the bins. Staff also track the bins "in/out activity" via computer. During Fiscal Year 2010-11, the service hours were increased by one hour daily at the request of the City.

 

If there has been no “in/out activity” for 30 days, the attendant uses the computer records to produce a list of “no show” bin users and the bin number that is then forwarded to the City Codes Department for pick-up of the bins’ contents.  This takes place once a month on a given date according to a monthly schedule created and maintained by SVDP.  Signs are posted at the units, as well as in the Food Center, advising “no show” users that their belongings will be picked by the City and held for an additional 30 days after which, if still unclaimed, their property will be considered abandoned and discarded.  Vacated bins do not go unused for long and usually are assigned to new clients within a matter of days.

The Homeless Persons Storage Units are unique to the City of St. Petersburg and are the only free, monitored, safe and convenient facilty for the community's homeless to store their personal belongings.

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