Pinellas Park homeless shelter must close by Friday - WFLA News Channel 8

Pinellas Park homeless shelter must close by Friday

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Jeffery and Vonda Polhill run Touched By An Angel Ministries Jeffery and Vonda Polhill run Touched By An Angel Ministries

Touched By An Angel Ministries in Pinellas Park has to close its controversial 42 unit shelter for drug addicts and distressed families by Friday or face eviction by Pinellas Sheriff's deputies.

A court order signed by Pinellas Circuit Judge Douglas Baird last week finalizes a property court dispute that ministry founder Pastor Jeffery Polhill has been waging with Cadence Bank since November.

Tuesday, residents of the shelter were loading PODS containers in an apparent effort to vacate the premises before the Friday deadline set by Judge Baird.

Shelter tenants Ken and Latoya Howes who have two children and are expecting a third say they moved Monday after Polhill told them they had to leave.

"Two weeks ago he took all of our money to move in here for extended stay to live in with furniture and stay here for a long period of time which planned on doing," Ken Howes said.

Tuesday other tenants were busy filling PODS containers and according to the Howes, scrambling for a place to live.

"The guy next to me said he's going to have to take him and his wife and his newborn baby into a hotel because they have nowhere else to go," said Latoya Howes.

Touched By An Angel founder Jeffery Polhill has faced his share of rough patches and controversy over the years even before this latest trouble.

Polhill is an ex-drug addict and an ex-con who has struggled since 2009 to keep his Pinellas Park shelter open amid financial problems and public relations crises ranging from bug bed infestations to allegations of running an illegal telemarketing operation in his shelter staffed by tenants.

Monday, Polhill initially told News Channel Eight he welcomed media coverage so that the community could help place his tenants and keep them from becoming homeless.

But when Polhill's wife Vonda spotted the Howes back on the property preparing to speak to News Channel  Eight she became agitated, ordered our news crew and the Howes off of the property, and insisted no one had to move anywhere.

Tuesday, Polhill and his wife as well as their Tampa attorney S.M. David Stamps III declined to comment on the shelter's property dispute with Cadence Bank or elaborate on where all of the tenants will go when the shelter shuts down under a court order at the end of the week.

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