ORLANDO, Fla. – Zebra Coalition, which helps homeless youth members of the LGBTQ community, said it’s now been two years in a row that they’ve missed out on critical funding from the state budget.
“I would ask the Governor what his plan is to reduce homelessness, particularly among our youth, considering that the support isn’t there for organizations like Zebra Coalition,” Heather Wilkie asked.
Wilkie worked with Zebra Coalition and said that’s one of the many questions she has for Gov. Ron DeSantis.
This reaction comes after the governor vetoed $500,000 set to go toward the LGBTQ-youth advocacy group out of the state budget.
“It hurts,” said Wilkie, “It stings when you try for two years to get funding that’s really just here to provide a resource to this community that is needed for these kids.”
This is now the second time the governor has denied Zebra Coalition funding
News 6 spoke to Wilkie last year, after $750,000 was denied at that time.
The money was set to renovate the Davis Park Motel off East Colonial.
The project is still delayed, but has the potential to house 35-homeless LGBTQ youth.
“We are still having conversations about the project... it’s still in the works,” Wilkie said.
Wilkie said the need for more housing is high, saying they have a growing wait list of young people who need a place to stay.
“We talk a lot about affordable housing, but for a young person to obtain a job, be able to make enough money to afford a place to live.. and it becomes such a struggle that we have an increase in youth experiencing homelessness,” said Wilkie.
Wilkie says all hope is not lost saying other organizations have stepped in to help.
Disney is one such organization, announcing a $100,000 donation this week.
Another organization, Gay Days, which holds an annual event held at the parks celebrating the LGBTQ community, is also chipping in to help.
“This year, we were able to partner with seven organizations across the country to receive proceeds from the Disney merchandise, which is huge,” Wilkie said.
News 6 asked the governor’s office about why the funding for Zebra Coalition was denied twice in a row.
The office said they will not talk about a specific line-item veto but said in a statement that the decision was made out of fiscal — and not malicious — consideration.
The Zebra Coalition said that they still need help with funding to support and house LGBTQ youth.