[Hpn] Homeless Hit in Hard Times

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Tue, 29 Jan 2008 14:02:15 -0500


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     Homeless Hit in Hard Times

                  St. Petersburg Times (Florida)

                  January 29, 2008
                =20
                   =20

            http://www.knowledgeplex.org/news/1338161.html

            By Chandra Broadwater

            Times Staff Writer

            BROOKSVILLE

            Howie Peterson stood there looking at the picture of the =
home he used to have. Back in Chicago, the carpenter built the two-story =
house with his own hands. But it went to his ex-wife after the divorce.

            With one of those same hands on a can of Natural Ice beer in =
his jacket pocket and the other holding the picture, the 52-year-old =
talked Saturday morning about life before the woods.

            "I came here to find more work," Peterson said. "I did, and =
the money was good for a while. But then it stopped."

            The damp soil numbed his toes as the tall trees overhead =
helped break the rain beginning to fall. The night before was cold, but =
not as cold as the night before that.

            For the last year he's been living in a tent in the woods =
near Brooksville, in one of several homeless camps in Hernando County. =
Over the weekend, Peterson and his camp neighbors, Grady Moore and =
girlfriend Susan Seiwell, helped local volunteers find and count people =
like themselves.

            The Mid-Florida Homeless Coalition organized the annual =
census, along with the help of groups such as Love Your Neighbor, the =
Salvation Army and St. Vincent De Paul. About 30 volunteers fanned =
across the county, hoping to get a better grasp of the situation in =
Hernando for more resources.

            They joined groups across the region, state and country =
doing the same. The last week of January is typically the time such =
counts are taken, explained coalition director Barbara Wheeler, who =
noted that this year there were many more volunteers to help than in =
past years.

            "It's tougher and tougher getting dollars into our =
community," Wheeler said. "It's hard to compete against St. Petersburg =
and Tampa. Our challenge is to tell our story to get those desperately =
needed resources."

            Once she gets accurate numbers, Wheeler said, the goal is to =
help Hernando groups figure out what kind of resources are needed in the =
county.

            "There's just not a lot of resources in Hernando County," =
said John Callea, of the Love Your Neighbor nonprofit based in =
Brooksville. The group recently started providing the homeless and poor =
residents in the county with a weekly Sunday dinner.

            "From what I can gather, we've depleted some of our =
resources while the population has increased," Callea said. "And it's =
not just the homeless. It's the people who are a paycheck away."

            While the results from the weekend count aren't yet tallied, =
Wheeler expects this year's numbers to go up. Last year's numbers show =
that on any given day there are at least 250 homeless people living =
throughout Hernando.

            Some are military veterans, while others have alcohol and =
drug addictions or suffer from mental illnesses. The majority live in or =
around Brooksville, where work at day labor jobs and other services are =
more easily accessible.

            Peterson and his friends live off U.S. 41, near downtown =
Brooksville. The tent he shares with his girlfriend, Seiwell, is covered =
with a blue tarp for added protection against the rain.

            So is the rusty, roofless burned out van that Moore, =
Peterson's other neighbor, has claimed as his home for the last year.

            The trio, along with a fourth neighbor who stayed asleep in =
his tent Saturday morning, found an old couch they dragged back into the =
woods for their common area in front of the fire pit.

            Empty ready-to-eat meal packets and grapefruit halves =
littered the ground. Like anyone else making excuses to visitors for an =
unkempt home, Moore said that he and the others try to keep their area =
neat.

            At 50, the former Marine has been homeless on and off for 27 =
years. He's lived under porches and made it through the freezing winters =
in Michigan, where he is spent most of his life.

            He's been homeless in Brooksville for the last two years. =
The story of how he ended up here is convoluted, and involves a crack =
addict named "Mario."

            Moore gets by picking up cans along the roadways, or selling =
scrap metal that he and Peterson find. At the moment, he's helping =
someone fix a car engine. He said that it's not so bad living in the =
woods.

            But any way he can help others out, he said he'll do it.

            "We wanted to help," Moore said, sitting on the ledge of his =
van. "That's why we're doing this. You got to help people out. You can't =
kick them when they're down."

            Chandra Broadwater can be reached at cbroadwater@sptimes.com =
, or (352)848-1432.

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    =20


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            <P><SPAN class=3Dnews_title><STRONG><FONT color=3D#1f499d=20
            size=3D5>Homeless Hit in Hard =
Times</FONT></STRONG></SPAN></P>
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                <TD class=3Dnews_author vAlign=3Dtop>
                  <DIV>St. Petersburg Times (Florida)</DIV>
                  <DIV><BR>January 29, 2008<BR></DIV></TD>
                <TD class=3Dnews_author vAlign=3Dtop align=3Dright><FONT =

                  =
color=3D#060606></FONT><BR>&nbsp;</TD></TR></TBODY></TABLE>
            <DIV class=3Dfloatrightcolumn><!-- rightcolumn_top -->
            <DIV class=3Drightcolumn><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><A=20
            =
href=3D"http://www.knowledgeplex.org/news/1338161.html">http://www.knowle=
dgeplex.org/news/1338161.html</A></FONT></DIV></DIV><SPAN=20
            class=3Dnews_body>
            <P></P><SPAN class=3Dnews_body>
            <P>By Chandra Broadwater</P>
            <P>Times Staff Writer</P>
            <P>BROOKSVILLE</P>
            <P>Howie Peterson stood there looking at the picture of the =
home he=20
            used to have. Back in Chicago, the carpenter built the =
two-story=20
            house with his own hands. But it went to his ex-wife after =
the=20
            divorce.</P>
            <P>With one of those same hands on a can of Natural Ice beer =
in his=20
            jacket pocket and the other holding the picture, the =
52-year-old=20
            talked Saturday morning about life before the woods.</P>
            <P>"I came here to find more work," Peterson said. "I did, =
and the=20
            money was good for a while. But then it stopped."</P>
            <P>The damp soil numbed his toes as the tall trees overhead =
helped=20
            break the rain beginning to fall. The night before was cold, =
but not=20
            as cold as the night before that.</P>
            <P>For the last year he's been living in a tent in the woods =
near=20
            Brooksville, in one of several homeless camps in Hernando =
County.=20
            Over the weekend, Peterson and his camp neighbors, Grady =
Moore and=20
            girlfriend Susan Seiwell, helped local volunteers find and =
count=20
            people like themselves.</P>
            <P>The Mid-Florida Homeless Coalition organized the annual =
census,=20
            along with the help of groups such as Love Your Neighbor, =
the=20
            Salvation Army and St. Vincent De Paul. About 30 volunteers =
fanned=20
            across the county, hoping to get a better grasp of the =
situation in=20
            Hernando for more resources.</P>
            <P>They joined groups across the region, state and country =
doing the=20
            same. The last week of January is typically the time such =
counts are=20
            taken, explained coalition director Barbara Wheeler, who =
noted that=20
            this year there were many more volunteers to help than in =
past=20
            years.</P>
            <P>"It's tougher and tougher getting dollars into our =
community,"=20
            Wheeler said. "It's hard to compete against St. Petersburg =
and=20
            Tampa. Our challenge is to tell our story to get those =
desperately=20
            needed resources."</P>
            <P>Once she gets accurate numbers, Wheeler said, the goal is =
to help=20
            Hernando groups figure out what kind of resources are needed =
in the=20
            county.</P>
            <P>"There's just not a lot of resources in Hernando County," =
said=20
            John Callea, of the Love Your Neighbor nonprofit based in=20
            Brooksville. The group recently started providing the =
homeless and=20
            poor residents in the county with a weekly Sunday =
dinner.</P>
            <P>"From what I can gather, we've depleted some of our =
resources=20
            while the population has increased," Callea said. "And it's =
not just=20
            the homeless. It's the people who are a paycheck away."</P>
            <P>While the results from the weekend count aren't yet =
tallied,=20
            Wheeler expects this year's numbers to go up. Last year's =
numbers=20
            show that on any given day there are at least 250 homeless =
people=20
            living throughout Hernando.</P>
            <P>Some are military veterans, while others have alcohol and =
drug=20
            addictions or suffer from mental illnesses. The majority =
live in or=20
            around Brooksville, where work at day labor jobs and other =
services=20
            are more easily accessible.</P>
            <P>Peterson and his friends live off U.S. 41, near downtown=20
            Brooksville. The tent he shares with his girlfriend, =
Seiwell, is=20
            covered with a blue tarp for added protection against the =
rain.</P>
            <P>So is the rusty, roofless burned out van that Moore, =
Peterson's=20
            other neighbor, has claimed as his home for the last =
year.</P>
            <P>The trio, along with a fourth neighbor who stayed asleep =
in his=20
            tent Saturday morning, found an old couch they dragged back =
into the=20
            woods for their common area in front of the fire pit.</P>
            <P>Empty ready-to-eat meal packets and grapefruit halves =
littered=20
            the ground. Like anyone else making excuses to visitors for =
an=20
            unkempt home, Moore said that he and the others try to keep =
their=20
            area neat.</P>
            <P>At 50, the former Marine has been homeless on and off for =
27=20
            years. He's lived under porches and made it through the =
freezing=20
            winters in Michigan, where he is spent most of his life.</P>
            <P>He's been homeless in Brooksville for the last two years. =
The=20
            story of how he ended up here is convoluted, and involves a =
crack=20
            addict named "Mario."</P>
            <P>Moore gets by picking up cans along the roadways, or =
selling=20
            scrap metal that he and Peterson find. At the moment, he's =
helping=20
            someone fix a car engine. He said that it's not so bad =
living in the=20
            woods.</P>
            <P>But any way he can help others out, he said he'll do =
it.</P>
            <P>"We wanted to help," Moore said, sitting on the ledge of =
his van.=20
            "That's why we're doing this. You got to help people out. =
You can't=20
            kick them when they're down."</P>
            <P>Chandra Broadwater can be reached at <A=20
            =
href=3D"mailto:cbroadwater@sptimes.com">cbroadwater@sptimes.com</A> ,=20
            or (352)848-1432.</P>
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