In February of 2003, St. Vincent de Paul opened a $5 million facility for the Veterans, the homeless, and the working poor in downtown St. Petersburg. The building, once an abandoned hospital, was rehabilitated into what is now one of the largest operations of its kind in Pinellas County - the Center of Hope.
The Center of Hope is an 85 single-room-occupancy transitional living program that provides housing for low-income and homeless Veterans and non-Veterans. It is designed specifically for members of the community who are trying to successfully attain and maintain self-sufficiency and permanent housing, but have been unable to do so due to economic downturn, substance abuse, and/or physical and mental disabilities. The 85-bed facility allows clients to stay for up to two years while they work with a case manager to develop life-coping skills, the means to self-sufficiency and permanent housing. 50 rooms are designated solely to Veterans in the Grant and Per Diem (GPD) program and 35 are assigned to non-per diem and non-Veterans. The other 3 rooms are used for emergency shelter where 10 Veterans are taken off the street and given a bed to sleep in and food to eat while they work to secure a more permanent placement in the community, whether it is at the Center of Hope, or a similar program in the area.
Upon entry, clients meet with a case manager who works with them to create an individualized plan of action. With the assistance of a case manager, clients are able to set goals for themselves in the areas that are most important to their overall success. Case managers focus on person centered planning and feel that self-determination is critical in working with homeless populations. Clients are given their own room, equipped with furniture, a refrigerator, a microwave and bathroom facilities, where they are free to decorate as they see fit and come and go as they please, with the exception of a midnight curfew.
Aside from case management, other supportive services available to program residents include benefits planning, permanent housing planning, support groups, peer mentoring, life skills training, money management, and access to basic health care and a registered dietitian. Some services are provided on-site, however, staff makes referrals to a variety of collaborating community agencies, as needed, for additional support in areas that focus on life skills coping, job readiness training and placement, substance abuse treatment, and so forth. The Center of Hope Transitional Living Program helps its residents become prepared to move on to more permanent housing in the community of their choice.
The Center of Hope Transitional Living Program
401 15th Street North, Saint Petersburg, FL. 33705
Program Director: Jackie Williams