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PR faithful begin prayer walks in rundown areas

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Some city leaders hope to harness the power of prayer to help residents in rundown areas of Port Richey.

Councilwoman Nancy Britton joined a group of 15 people on a recent prayer walk along sections of Limit Drive, west of U.S. 19 and south of the Pithlachascotee River bridge along the highway.

Participants offered more aid to residents who wanted it, Lord reported.

In the meantime, city officials shared concerns about a few unruly homeless people during a recent summit with Salvation Army leaders here.

The meeting included Britton, Port Richey Assistant City Manager Jocilyn Martinez and New Port Richey Police Chief Kim Bogart. They spoke with Capt. Jay Deaton, the Salvation Army Pasco County Corps officer, and some of his staff. A followup meeting is planned for next month.

“We are here to give them a hand up, not a handout,” Deaton said about Salvation Army’s mission to aid homeless people. Deaton spoke during a Wednesday morning phone interview.

Salvation Army operates the Center of Hope at 8040 Washington St., where meals are served daily for needy people.

“It’s not us attracting homeless people,” Deaton remarked. “It’s important not to focus on the negative.”

//Without the help the homeless might resort to illegal means of getting food and shelter, Deaton said.

In 2013, Salvation Army served 29,087 meals, Deaton reports. Social services programs had 2,375 cases to provide help. Plus Salvation Army cooperates with many other groups and businesses to supply aid for the needy.

Nonetheless, Bogart sees a “huge problem” from chronic homeless people who prefer to live that way. “Salvation Army folks were very receptive” to the challenges both cities face, the police chief added.

Relatively few homeless people create trouble, Bogart emphasized. He said he is active with the Coalition for the Homeless of Pasco County and understands the complexity of the issue. The coalition is working on its 10-year plan to end homelessness.

“Some of the homeless people are creating problems,” Bogart said, by hanging out in parks or defecating behind businesses.

People lingering late at night in parks prompted New Port Richey officials to boost lighting at Sims Park, Bogart noted. Now the park is lit almost like a baseball field,.

“It was easy for officers to see clear across the park” during patrols for possible troublemakers, Bogart said.

corth@suncoastnews.com

(727) 815-1068

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