It was a small patch of dirt, roughly five feet long. But within a year, the dirt will be transformed into a miracle for Tampa families.
"It'll be great to be able to say to them, 'you're home, welcome, come on in,' " said Morris Hintzman.
Hintzman heads up Metropolitan Ministries, an emergency shelter for families in need.
In 2011, the Ministries saw more than 2,700 families -- a 47 percent increase over the previous year.
Miracle Place is now an extension of the shelter. Fifty extra units will be built, along with an expanded dining room, daycare and education center.
The apartments are nearly double the size.
"These units will be two-bedroom, 450 square feet, where kids can do homework at a table rather than do it on their bunk bed," explained Tim Marks, President of Metropolitan Ministries.
What's also double is the amount of people they will be able to help.
With the new expansion, Workers can assist 200 families, including 450 children, every year.
"These are families that are in desperate need. This is the last resort for them; it allows them to get back on their feet, " said Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn.
Chandra Rowley is finally getting back on her feet.
On July 4th last year, Rowley was desperate.
"I was sitting on a bus bench with my three children, four months pregnant, and a wagon full of all our belongings," she said.
She had nowhere to turn. A friend took her in for a few nights. Finally, someone told her to go to Metropolitan Ministries.
"I was a little disheartened at first, because there was a three-month wait list," Chandra said.
In October, she got the call that the room was ready.
"It was absolutely wonderful, because we hadn't had our own space in a very long time," she said.
Now, eight months later, she is about to graduate from school and plans to be a phlebotomist.
The family is also moving out of the shelter and into their own apartment in two weeks.
"It's going to be absolutely wonderful. It's going to be great. My kids are going to love it."
Now her whole outlook on life has changed.
"I have a lot more hope in life itself. I know my kids, as long as my kids are happy and taken care of, I'm happy," she says.
Metropolitan Ministries says the new building will take a year to complete. It's paid for by private and corporate donations.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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