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Letter to the Editor

Creating Housing for Veterans Exemplifies Manatee’s Spirit of Respect and Solidarity


As a concerned Manatee County resident and advocate for those who have served our country, I believe offering safe, stable, and affordable housing options is a vital step toward ensuring the well-being and dignity of our veterans.

Our veterans have made tremendous sacrifices to protect our nation and preserve the freedoms we hold dear. But many veterans face significant challenges when transitioning to civilian life, including housing insecurity. It is our responsibility as a community to support them in their transition and provide them with the resources they need to thrive.

In Manatee County, however, veterans face an extra challenge in the form of Bob Spenser who uses his online platform to disgracefully stereotype and falsely label our veterans.

While Mr. Spenser prides himself in being a conservative and has veterans and flags all over his newspaper-looking website, he falls way short on being pro-veteran, which is a rock-solid conservative position.

Let’s first set the record straight on the proposed permanent veteran housing in Manatee County:

  • Manatee County never planned to build 500-plus units for veterans on the proposed site at the corner of Cortez Road and 66th Street W. For Mr. Spenser to imply otherwise is simply false. From the beginning, the scope of this project was no more than 150 units.
  • Veteran housing is not government waste. Housing is a benefit vets have earned by the sacrifices they made while serving our county.
  • “Legitimate homeless veterans,” (a phrase in Mr. Spenser’s opinion piece) already have vouchers for housing, but most, if not all, can’t find a place to live because of the stigma people like Mr. Spenser has fostered about people who cannot afford housing in Manatee County.
  • The proposed veteran housing project is NOT an untested experiment. Tunnel to Towers has more than 20 years of experience helping Wounded Veterans and our community should be grateful for this opportunity to offer our veterans a hand up.

As a social worker who worked with veterans through the Wounded Warriors Project and the Boot Campaign to help expedite veterans into treatment, I am excited about this project. I struggled to find affordable housing for vets when I worked at a local PTSD treatment facility.

By offering affordable housing options for veterans, we are honoring their service and investing in the future well-being of our entire community.

I applaud the efforts of Tunnel to Towers and its commitment to creating affordable, permanent housing opportunities for veterans. And I thank them for their tireless efforts to improve the lives of veterans throughout the country.

I encourage everyone to ignore NIMBY zealots like Mr. Spencer and to work with community stakeholders, government agencies, and local businesses to make this veteran housing initiative a reality. Dedication to this cause exemplifies the values of compassion, solidarity, and respect that Manatee County has for our veterans.

Let's work together to preserve the character of our County, the one I fell in love with when I moved here almost 10 years ago. While concerns are natural, let's approach change with an open mind, embracing new opportunities while addressing any potential challenges. By engaging in constructive conversations and collaborating with local stakeholders, we can find solutions that benefit everyone. Our community's strength lies in its unity, and by resisting NIMBY rhetoric like Bob Spencers, we can create a vibrant County that welcomes positive developments and maintains its unique charm.

Fellow Millennials & Gen Z, let's strive to be informed, involved, and considerate of one another, nurturing a place we're proud to call home.

Evelyn Almodóvar
Manatee County Democratic Party Chair


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  • barbaraelliott

    This is a wonderful letter supporting veterans housing. The only part I wish I could agree with was all uplifting talk about working with agencies and government. I don't think it's possible with so many developers padding campaign coffers. Elwood Park won a reprieve from development perhaps because the developer wasn't on the favored, campaign contributions, special VIP list at the BOCC.

    While this letter explains veterans service, needs and realities, I believe the BOCC voted no because they live in 'its all about my service, needs and realities'' lala land. Sometimes you have to battle instead of a playing parlay with single minded government officials.Ask any vet. They"ve been there. Dems need to get more hard assed and way less politically correct if they expect to win anything.

    It's all about right, wrong and your conscience with God. BOCC has none. The Lord will separate the weeds from the good garden. However, we have to plant the seeds, water and fertilize before the weeds are pulled. So get in the dirt with the rest of us dems. If you play nice you'll get nothing but ignored. I've lived here since 1974, Same old same old. We must do something different if we want different results.

    Sunday, August 27, 2023 Report this

  • WTF

    The BOCC has done NOTHING to relieve the Veterans homeless that are on the streets TODAY. If fact they made is worse. Amanda Ballard motion to re appropriate $1,500,000.00 of FEDERAL VETERAN FUNDING. It passed 7-0 so Veterans. Jason, Mike and County administrator Mr. Bishop was this the best use of FEDERAL ARP monies. This was the very last of the 15 million earmarked for Veterans. Other than the 6 million of FEDERAL monies to pay utilities for the DIRT for T2T NOTHING has been done for them to date. Shame on the BOCC


    By the numbers, you say we have 80 homeless Veterans, A one bedroom /studio can be found for say $1500 a month. 80 x 1500 x 12 months = $720,000 times 2 years is 1.4 million.

    For that we could get every homeless veteran off the streets into housing for 2 years until Tunnel to Towers is done and still have 7.5 million left over for wrap around services they might need.

    So please tell me again how much this board supports our local homeless VETERANS. Taxpayers support our VETERANS. Your votes tell the truth

    So how much LOCAL funds have been distributed. Show me the $$$$$

    Sunday, December 24, 2023 Report this