Kicked in the Teeth

Last Thursday night, the community got kicked in the teeth. And a few teeth, in the form of 8 million bucks, were knocked out. Read The Tampa Times article: Hillsborough County whacks affordable housing amid crisis.

I didn’t send out my Friday email last week. I was practicing restraint of tongue and pen.

In 2019, after nearly 7 years of advocacy, HOPE successfully influenced the Board of County Commission to put 10 million dollars a year in an affordable housing fund. The number of hours, meetings, planning, and advocacy over those 7 years is mind-boggling to even contemplate.

WHO GOT KICKED IN THE TEETH? The most vulnerable. Those folks on the edges of our community, living paycheck to paycheck, who can barely afford the astronomical cost of housing got unnecessarily kicked while down.

WHO KICKED THE TEETH OUT? 4 County Commissioners: Ken Hagen, Michael Owen, Joseph Wostal, and Donna Cameron Cepeda.

WHAT DID THEY DO? In one evening, these 4–one of whom used to live in affordable housing prior to being elected–reallocated $8 million (80%) during the biggest affordable housing crises in our community.

What did they raid it for? Road paving and sidewalk repairs.

Here are a few nuggets:

  • The Commissioners did not discuss ANY OTHER ITEMS in the budget, only affordable housing. Seem weird?
  • The budget is $9.2 Billion Dollars. The allocation for affordable housing was only 1/1000th of the total budget.

Last week, 130 folks who are unhoused and hungry came to The Portico Breakfast. Inevitably, that number will grow as the population increases and affordable housing decreases.


The community needs some dental work after last Thursday. Good news is that you don’t need to be a dentist to help. Friends, this is the work of justice. It’s long, difficult, and often frustrating. We won’t give up or give in. The church is called to mobilize.

4 things:

  1. Become a HOPE Network Member through Portico/Hyde Park. Set up a meeting with our Liaison. Email Jasmine Doby.
  2. Join the relaunched Justice Team at The Portico. Email Lizzy.
  3. EMAIL all of the County Commissioners to share your thoughts about their removal of 8 million dollars from affordable housing.
  4. Pray daily for this issue, the commissioners, and HOPE leaders. I will be praying for the four each day for the next two weeks.

You are loved.