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Updated: 08/07/2013 10:10:03AM

We like county’s early plans to help the homeless

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On any given day six years ago, a visitor to downtown St. Petersburg might have encountered panhandlers on the street corners, and homeless people sleeping on the sidewalks, drinking beer or relieving themselves in public. The sidewalks had such a strong smell of urine the city public works had to spray them with disinfectant.

The problems in St. Pete became so extreme that city leaders turned for help to a national consultant, Robert Marbut of San Antonio, Texas. Following his suggestions, local leaders established a large homeless facility that provided shelter, food and counseling services.

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