Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality


HOPE’s mission is to actively live our spiritual values of fairness, justice and dignity of people. HOPE is a vehicle for our congregations to engage and train hundreds of residents in Hillsborough County to responsibly act together to improve the systems affecting the quality of life in our communities. We do that by identifying common community problems, researching long-term solutions, and publicly engaging decision-makers to implement those systemic solutions.


HOPE, a multi-issue community organization founded in September 1988, has the following track record:

Juvenile Justice

Civil Citations: To reduce youth arrests, HOPE persuaded the Chief Judge, State Attorney, Public Defender, County Sheriff and three Chief of Police to establish permanent policy that expanded the number of misdemeanor offenses eligible for a Youth Civil Citation in Hillsborough County, thereby preventing thousands of children from getting lifelong damaging arrest records and reducing their chance of re-offending by half. Along with DART Florida sister organizations, HOPE got the Florida Legislature to expand the Civil Citation state law so children can get Civil Citation/Arrest Avoidance programs up to three times for misdemeanor offenses.


Fair Chance Hiring: Persuaded the Tampa City Council to pass the Tampa Criminal History Screening Practices Ordinance. This “ban the box” fair chance hiring ordinance made it illegal to inquire about an applicant’s criminal record on an initial City of Tampa job application, reducing discrimination and opening doors to employment for people with criminal records. Hillsborough County then passed a similar ordinance covering applicants for jobs with Hillsborough County.

Job Training: Got Hillsborough Community College to develop nine Fast-Track Job Skill Certificate Programs, as well as a plan to connect the unemployed with these training programs.

Health Care

Dental Services: Persuaded the County Health Department and two federally qualified Health Centers to advocate for funding and develop and initiate implementation of a plan to increase dental services for 15,000 people at 200% or below poverty, leading to 34 new dental chairs and two new health centers.

Behavioral Health: Got a public commitment from the county to expand mental health and substance abuse treatment in the Health Care Plan for people at 100% of poverty.

Housing and Services

Birth Certificates and IDs: Persuaded Hillsborough County to establish a program to assist the homeless with Birth Certificates and Identifications, to enable them to get shelter, employment, and medical care.

Expedited Rent Assistance: Gained commitment from Hillsborough County and the Clerk of the Circuit Court to expedite rent assistance checks to landlords within 11 days to maintain people in housing.

Public Transportation

Bus Service: Successfully encouraged HART to extend late night bus service until 1:00 A.M. on 8 priority bus routes during the week and 2 extra hours on weekends, and construct bus shelters at identified locations.

Education Reform

Suspensions: Achieved the establishment of the School District Alternative To Out-of-School Suspension (ATOSS) program, which has supervised and protected GPAs of over 200,000 suspended children. Secured commitment from school district not to suspend children out of school for tardiness, as in Florida Statutes.

Reading: Positively impacted the reading success of thousands of low-income children in K – 3rd grade, and now Special Education, through implementation of a phonics-based reading program called Direct Instruction (DI). Secured $921,000 of state funding for Hillsborough County School District to implement DI in 10 schools and helped secure $7.25 million during the 2000 Legislative Session for use of DI in seven Florida School Districts.

Minority Teachers: Secured employment of a Minority Teacher Recruiter by the School District.

Neighborhood Improvement

Rezoning: Reclaimed a historic residential African American neighborhood, Dobyville, by reversing 1950 Industrial Zoning to Residential and Mixed Use Zoning, leading to the development of new and old housing.

Demolition: Successfully encouraged the Mayor of Tampa to demolish and clean up the abandoned Belmont Heights Lumber Company, a dangerous health, safety, and fire hazard in the community.

Sidewalks: Convinced the City of Tampa to construct a 1.2-mile sidewalk on 22nd Street in East Tampa at a cost of $65,000 to City of Tampa, which led to construction of many other sidewalks.

Code Enforcement: Persuaded Tampa City Council to rehabilitate or demolish 200 condemned buildings and cut over 100 gravely overgrown empty lots, resulting in a 50% increase in Tampa Code Enforcement Budget.

Infrastructure: Obtained traffic signs, street repair, drainage, and upgraded street lighting in Belmont Heights, Ybor City, Tampa Heights and Jackson Heights from Tampa’s Department of Public Works.



Current Membership

HOPE is currently comprised of 25 congregations representing a diverse mix of race, culture, economic levels and religious traditions throughout Hillsborough County.

Contact Us

5103 N. Central
Tampa, FL 33603
Tel. 813-221-HOPE


Rev. Sharon Streater
Lead Organizer

Katilyn Hicks
Associate Organizer