Recovering from homelessness in Orlando hasn’t gotten easier in 2024

Orlando has had a housing crisis for years. And everyday hundreds of men, women and children wander the streets trying to navigate services to pull themselves out of this struggle.

Over the past few days, I’ve been among them trying to do the same thing. Unfortunately, I’ve struggled before but eventually you run out of couches to sleep on and the travel jobs dry up. We’re not addressing the true causes of the issue and things have only gotten worse.

You may hear otherwise from the real estate industry, but I’m living it. Let me share some of what I’ve seen and been through over the past few days.

The effects of the February shelter fire are still being felt: While I’ve been in lobbies and waiting in lines, much of the providers are still talking about the fire that took place earlier this year (story HERE). While many of the facilities have reopened, there are still some facilities still awaiting inspection. Including the beds used to house homeless veterans.

Yes, there are still homeless veterans in Orlando: This needs to be mentioned because many leaders and organizations have said that the problem has been eliminated. That’s simply not true. In addition to myself, there are others still trying to find housing. At this moment, if you’re a veteran you’re in the general group with everyone else.

Many organizations aren’t picking up the phone or answering emails: If you’re seeking help and you pick up the phone, then you’re likely getting a voicemail. If you send an email, then your message isn’t getting a response. This is harmful because we don’t know what we’ll need to get help. And we can spend half a day at an office only to discover we’re in the wrong place or can’t get help there.

There isn’t anywhere else to go: If you don’t have a home in Orlando there really isn’t anywhere to go. And you might think “Well, you can go anywhere. Can’t you?”

Not when you have everything you own in a cart. Not when you might not have access to a bathroom.

And certainly not when nobody wants you around. And in Orlando, you can get arrested for simply standing on the sidewalk if someone things you’re blocking it.

Struggling on the street in Orlando is a heartbreaking and traumatic experience. You forget who you are, and the way you’re treated everywhere can make you lose all hope very quickly.

There are some good people helping, but not nearly enough of them: I’ve spoken to about seven people while seeking help. Five of them have been great and I’ve had some hope after speaking to them. And two just handed me a packet and wanted me gone. If we had more of the good people then it could change the entire situation regarding those who are struggling here.

The road back seems so far: The problem for a lot of people seeking help is that a permanent fix seems so far away. I’ve struggled before and I still can’t find a real solution in Orlando. I’ve asked some of the smartest people in our community and they don’t have answers either. And the conditions are only getting worse.

But we have to keep going. We don’t have a choice.

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