MANATEE COUNTY - With homelessness rising on the Suncoast, a Sarasota non-profit is expanding their housing and mental health programs for homeless adults to Manatee County. 

“There’s a misconception that four walls and a roof solves everything and it certainly does not, that’s just one piece of the puzzle," said Second Heart Homes, Executive Director & Founder, Megan Howell. 

Sarasota based non-profit, Second Heart Homes is expanding its work into Manatee County thanks to the purchase of a new property in Bradenton made possible through at $300,000 grant from the Charles & Margery Barancik Foundation.

“We’re really excited that we closed on this house at the beginning of June, we have 43 clients off the street, and going off Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you can’t start addressing emotional, and wellbeing issues into your fed and you’re housed and that is what we do first," said Second Heart Homes Staff Member, Maureen Gebhardt. 

The organization focuses on addressing their client’s mental and physical health, helping them remain sober and achieve personal goals. Second Heart Homes says the timing of the expansion comes as homelessness is up 25 percent in Manatee County since September, and more than 65 percent of those are homeless for the first time.   

“The age group of who we serve ranges from 18 to I think the oldest client that we’ve had is 84, so anyone can be susceptible to homelessness and suffering from a mental issue but with the right kind of support they can start to address that and live the lives that they deserve," said Howell. 

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 to care for homeless individuals, as well as the prevalence of panhandling.

“Unfortunate that there is a huge need in Bradenton but we certainly feel it’s our duty to give it our best shot and address it the best we can," said Howell. 

Second Heart Homes is always seeking volunteers or donations, for more information on how to help, you can visit their website here