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More and more people are finding themselves living paycheck to paycheck in the greater Tampa Bay region. In some places, rent has doubled. The cost of everyday goods — like gas and groceries — keeps creeping up. All the while, wages lag behind and the affordable housing crisis looms. Amid cost-of-living increases, WUSF is focused on documenting how people are making ends meet.

Manatee commissioners approve a slate of initiatives to address homelessness

A county government building with American flag.
Manatee County Government
Among other items, commissioners directed county staff to work with the cities of Bradenton and Palmetto to develop a housing crisis response system.

The board held a special meeting Tuesday on homelessness and workforce housing.

Manatee County commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to create a new position for a program coordinator focused on the homeless, and to initiate a study with the Florida Housing Coalition to develop a housing crisis response system.

Commissioner Misty Servia called homelessness in Manatee County a "crisis."

"And we need to put our foot on the accelerator towards a solution," she said.

"No more kicking the can down the road. And there is federal money to help solve this problem that we're leaving on the table, and that is not acceptable."

Commissioners also approved the creation of a grant writer position to secure federal and state money available to address homelessness.

During the meeting, Chris Johnson, CEO of the Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness, revealed that 67% of families seeking the agency's help are without a home for the first time.

"The reason we are here today," said Commissioner Carol Whitmore, "is because there is a major housing crisis. We can't find any affordable housing and its trickling down to homelessness."

As a reporter, my goal is to tell a story that moves you in some way. To me, the best way to do that begins with listening. Talking to people about their lives and the issues they care about is my favorite part of the job.