A Home for the Homeless

single room with bed

The housing crisis and the worst inflation in four decades have helped drive up the number of homeless people in Manatee County and nationwide. Homelessness is up 25% in Manatee County since this time last year. More than 65% of those are homeless for the first time. 

A mental health and supportive-housing program for homeless adults in Sarasota has expanded its work into Manatee County. Second Heart Homes purchased a property in Bradenton on June 9, expanding its program capacity to serve 43 men and women. Second Heart Homes’ approach provides long-term housing and care that revives dignity, establishes stability, and teaches independence. 

Clients come to the organization based on their commitment to address their mental and physical health, remain sober and achieve personal goals toward self-sufficiency. Many later rejoin the community. “Pandemic economic woes and runaway inflation have accelerated affordable housing and mental-health crises,” Megan Howell, founder and executive director of Second Heart Homes, said in a press release. “Community support helped us rapidly extend our program to meet this urgent community need.” 

Enabling the purchase of the new property was a $300,000 grant from Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation. Other community leaders came together to support the purchase, too, Howell said. “Tamara and Todd Currey and broker Craig Cerreta of Premier Sotheby’s International Realty helped us find the home and donated commissions towards closing costs. UNI Together’s Chad Gates also donated closing costs and pro bono legal services, while Art Avenue owner Paul Sykes gifted artwork and additional funds,” she said. 

Since being founded in 2019, the organization has provided its clients with more than 10,000 nights of living off the street. This has helped alleviate the strain on emergency and other social services personnel, as well as the prevalence of panhandling. “Second Heart Homes has shown that its housing-first approach has helped many rebuild their lives while supporting effective mental health outcomes,” Teri Hansen, president and CEO of Barancik Foundation, said in the press release. “They have made a positive mark in Sarasota, and we’re eager to see their impact on Manatee County.”

Read the full Bradenton Herald article »