ORLANDO, Fla. – One of the largest providers of homeless services in Central Florida is warning of “potential chaos” as it sees an increasing number of people finding themselves without a home and seeking shelter.
“Based on what we’re seeing, there is absolutely cause for concern,” said Allison Krall, President and CEO of the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida.
Krall told News 6 that in the last six months, more than 100 families have contacted her organization looking for a place to sleep.
She said her staff helped six families last week alone.
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“With the uptick of evictions already, with the lack of affordable housing in this community, and just the unprecedented increase in rents, it’s kind of a trifecta for potential chaos,” she said.
“Landlords are not renewing leases or raising rents making it impossible for the extremely low income, elderly and working class to afford to remain where they are at,” said Jeff White, Executive Director of the Volusia-Flagler County Coalition for the Homeless. “(That) means they must find a new residence. Unfortunately, the rent increases, which go beyond affordable, are across the entire two-county area resulting in new homeless households who had previously been able to make ends meet.”
Fueling the problem
According to the latest report from Rent.com, rent in Central Florida jumped an average of 14% over the last year.
Data from the University of Florida and clerks of court show the number of eviction filings has gone up an average of 119% in Central Florida.
The same data shows it is not just renters feeling the financial pinch.
Court filings for foreclosures have surged 384% in Central Florida since the same time last year.
“I don’t wish this on my worst enemy,” said one woman. “People don’t even treat you like you’re human.”
The woman — identified only as Sarah — said she would not have thought in a million years that she would be living and sleeping in her car.
“I lived in my home for 11 years,” she said. “Now, I spend about $30 a day in gas to keep the car cool.”
She said she did not want her full name being used as she is still searching for another job and career.
Sarah said she lost her career as a bookkeeper during the pandemic, which resulted in her getting evicted.
“People don’t realize that when you’re homeless, there’s a lot of doors that are closed, but not many open,” she said. “I did not ever think that I would be priced out of Orlando.”
To help get results, Orange County commissioners approved a roughly 10% increase in their funding for homeless services and prevention last week.
News 6 found out that some of the organizations the county is helping could still end up struggling.
Millions of dollars in federal COVID funds those organizations have been receiving for the last two years have already expired or will expire at the end of September.
“The federal funding is keeping people housed,” said Krall. “It’s those prevention dollars that are assisting folks with staying in housing.”
Sarah is currently looking for that help and a way to get her life back to the way she remembered it.
“I would like help trying to find a job,” she said. “Being homeless — people don’t want to hire you.”
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