Seeking to fill a need for housing in our community that can serve low income families and individuals, Bishop Gregory Parkes blessed the grounds where construction will soon begin on St. Benedict Housing located in Crystal River. This is the first “Shelter of Hope” to be built in Citrus Country by Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Petersburg and is a step towards accomplishing one of the goals set forth by Courageously Living the Gospel, the new diocesan vision.
The event was held on September 7 and included a groundbreaking with Bishop Parkes and key supporters wearing hard hats and carrying ceremonial shovels. Father Ryszard Stradomski, pastor of St. Benedict Catholic Church, offered the invocation.
When complete, St. Benedict Housing will provide apartments for 10 families or individuals – including veterans – who are either homeless or at risk of becoming homeless. Catholic Charities and the Diocese of St. Petersburg currently operate 20 affordable housing properties. Many of the people served are not Catholic.
Serving those in need is a major focus of the new diocesan vision, Courageously Living the Gospel. One of the major goals is to establish 8-10 new affordable housing properties during the next three years and St. Benedict is the first such property.
“Scripture says that the Son of Man had no place to lay his head. We believe as a Church that every person deserves to have a home and deserves to have a place where they can be safe,” said Bishop Parkes.
Catholic Charities is working with public and private partners to develop St. Benedict Housing. Financial assistance is coming from Citrus County Housing Services (via State of Florida SHIP program funds), Florida Housing Finance Corporation, and Brannen Banks of Florida.
“Catholic Charities has a lot of experience with helping the homeless. They have a great system. They work with the community and they go above and beyond what other non-profits do and they are a wonderful partner for this whole process,” said Kevin Tatreau, Director of Development Finance, Florida Housing Finance Corporation.
Local organizations such as Inverness Elks Lodge 2522 and Central Citrus County Rotary Club will provide kitchen appliances and furnishings. Daystar of Citrus County, located next to the future St. Benedict Housing, has committed to providing support services to future tenants.
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of St. Petersburg is an accredited non-profit agency that serves the poor and vulnerable within Pinellas, Hillsborough, Pasco, Hernando, and Citrus counties. They served over 15,000 individuals last year with services including but not limited to, providing food and shelter, immigration and refugee assistance, respite care and medical screening, and pregnancy and adoption assistance. Learn more at www.ccdosp.org.