Website tracks homelessness trends in Central Florida. New data helps find solutions

Lack of affordable housing No. 1 driver of homelessness, experts say

ORLANDO, Fla. – Central Florida volunteers are working to combat homelessness by gathering data that will help allocate federal resources, understand local trends and inform policy change.

The Point-In-Time (PIT) count found that 2,151 people in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties in 2022 were experiencing homelessness on a single night.

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Martha Are, the CEO of Homeless Service Network of Central Florida, said new numbers are needed to understand if more people are impacted this year.

“What we’re looking for is to identify everyone we can who is experiencing homelessness at this time, meaning folks who are literally out on the streets or in shelters or transitional housing,” Are said.

Are calls the PIT count a snapshot of the situation in Central Florida. Although she estimates the actual numbers are likely higher, she said the data can still provide trends and track significant changes from year to year.

“We’re anticipating those numbers will go up some this year because of the impact of what we’ve seen with vastly, quickly, escalating rent costs that have made housing unattainable for people, as well as the hurricanes which took a lot of units offline,” Are said.

Are added there are many factors that contribute to the problem, but the lack of affordable housing available is the number one driver forcing families out of options.

“In the last four years, when you compare us to the other 100 largest metropolitan areas, we’ve ranked 7th worst, 3rd worst. This year we’re tied for 2nd worst, meaning that we only have 18 units available for every 100 households,” she said.

It’s the challenge Are said that makes change critical. But beyond the numbers, she does see solutions.

“We have to continue to create more housing options. We still have to continue to create more affordable housing so that people have a place to go, and we need to continue to fund and support the services the people need to help them maintain that housing,” Are said.

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About the Author:

Catherine, born and raised in Central Florida, joined News 6 in April 2022.