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Keishla Espinal

Residents of Pinellas Hope are Glad to Have New Tents After Hurricane Idalia​​​​​​​

September 7, 2023 | Residents around the Diocese of St. Petersburg have faced the harmful effects of Hurricane Idalia, such as electricity lost, roofs damaged, and homes flooded.

But for the homeless men and women who take shelter at Pinellas Hope in Clearwater, life was turned upside down when the tents they call home were damaged by Idalia.

Over two hundred people call Pinellas Hope home and 140 tents house these men and women who have faced difficulties in life, such as a job loss, a medical crisis, or a traumatic event.

When powerful rains or heavy winds arrive in our area, the tents are no match for weather’s fury.

“Times like these can be difficult but my Lord Jesus, my Savior, keeps me hopeful,” said Renee, a resident of Pinellas Hope. “His grace is sufficient, and I pray every day that he helps me endure and persevere.”

With safety in mind, residents of Pinellas Hope were evacuated to Largo High School on August 29, 2023, before the storm came close to our area. With less than 12-hour notice before the storm, the Knights of Columbus Council 12110, and the vice principal and students from Tampa Catholic High School helped staff to break down tents and gather belongings for the evacuation.

Once residents and staff were able to return to Pinellas Hope on August 30th, the community gathered to pick up the damage Hurricane Idalia left in its wake. Following a post-storm assessment by Catholic Charities, they determined that over 75 residents' tents were beyond repair and required immediate replacement.

For two days, residents slept outside on the community deck while they waited for new tents to be ready. Since then, all the broken tents have been replaced.

“Most residents feel very fortunate to have a place to stay and to receive the support offered to them,” said Joseph Pondolfino, Director of Pinellas Hope.

Each tent takes a couple of days to receive after ordered and around 30 minutes to assemble. However, tents at Pinellas Hope are frequently replaced. Due to heavy usages by residents, each tent has a lifespan of only three to four months with a cost of $87-$110 per tent.

Catholic Charities, Diocese of St. Petersburg covers the replacement cost of these tents. Catholic Charities is grateful for all of those who have donated and dedicated their time, talent, and treasure to help get Pinellas Hope running again. If you would like to donate or volunteer, you can learn more by going to

History of Pinellas Hope

Catholic Charities, in partnership with the interfaith community, local government, businesses and other not-for-profits, established Pinellas Hope on December 1, 2007, on 10 acres of land located in Clearwater and donated by the Diocese of St. Petersburg with the goal of assisting homeless adults on the streets by providing temporary emergency shelter. It initially consisted of 250 units of emergency shelter (tents). It has since grown to include a community center, meeting rooms, a pavilion, efficiency apartments, wrap-around social services, and shipping containers converted into living space.


Volunteers and staff work to set up new tents at Pinellas Hope. Courtesy Photo
After returning to Pinellas Hope following an evacuation, residents slept on the deck because their tents had been damaged. Courtesy Photo.
A line of shiny, new tents are ready for Pinellas Hope clients. Photo by Keishla Espinal