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The Laker, Pasco County, Fl  --  December 19, 2007

With 1,300 in Pasco, Dade City declares Help the Homeless month


By Joe Potter Staff Writer


DADE CITY — City Commissioners here have unanimously approved designating January as "Help the Homeless" month and are encouraging city residents and business people to aid in the effort.

A proclamation issued to Journey Village president and co-founder Denny Mihalinec on Tuesday, Dec. 11, said there are 1,300 homeless people in Pasco County with 225 of them being located in the Dade City, Trilby, Lacoochee and Trilacoochee area.

The purpose of Journey Village, which is scheduled to open in eastern Pasco County in April 2008, is to help house and train homeless people until they are able to ob­tain their own housing, said Mihalinec, who is a Ridge Manor resident.

The proclamation said Dade City residents are encouraged during January to "donate their time and skills, along with monetary donations, to support local homeless projects."

Journey Village will be a transitional housing center for homeless people in east­ern Pasco County that will be designed to help those displaced veterans and others who have no roof over their head but the stars, Mihalinec said.

There is some hope for the homeless in western Pasco County because 184 emergency beds are available where they may stay there. However, there are an estimated 1,300 homeless people in Pasco County, and the resources in eastern Pasco County are particularly limited, said Mihalinec.

He is currently seeking 501(c)(3) status from the federal government, Mihalinec said. Obtaining 501(c)(3) status will enable Journey Village to apply for state and federal grants and to accept charitable donations. Some sociology students from Saint Leo University are helping to prepare an applica­tion for the 501(c)(3) status.

Mihalinec said he hopes to obtain five acres of donated property in eastern Pasco, preferably in the Trilby or Lacoochee area, where Journey Village can be developed. Mihalinec estimated it would cost about $160,000 and take about three years to get the village fully up and running.  Those funds are anticipated to be from a combination of grants and donations.

Homeless people would be able to stay at an intake center at Journey Village until they found a job.  They would then be en­couraged to save their work money while they stayed in a small structure, comparable to a hunter's cabin, on the grounds of Journey Village.  A single person would occupy a 300 to 400-square-foot structure while a couple or families with children would have larger accommodations.

The temporary homes would cost between $2,000 and $10,000 to build and would contain a bed and a sink and a toilet. They would rent for approximately $25 per month, enabling occupants to save money to eventually move into a home or apartment.

People occupying the temporary houses would not be able to drink alcoholic bever­ages, could not hold parties, and must either be employed or actively seeking employment.

Journey Village •would also include a playground, church, and shower room, all of which would be run by volun­teers.

Prior to becoming interested in estab­lishing Journey Village, Mihalinec founded the now non-profit Greater Trilby Community Association in Trilby. He was that organization's first president. The GTCA helps disadvantaged residents of the communities of Trilby, Lacoochee and Trilacoochee. .Also, Mihalinec founded an aluminum can recycling program for the local East Pasco Habitat for Humanity Chapter. The program was fashioned after other successful recycling programs other Habitat chapters had been operating worldwide.

In addition, Mihalinec was instrumental in developing a trailhead at the southern end of the Withlacoochee State Trail and assisted in forming a Crime Watch program in Trilby.

For more -information about Journey Village, call Mihalinec at (352) 583-4375 or visit