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Frequently Asked Questions

The state of Florida is in the midst of a crisis in its ability to provide adequate shelter and affordable housing for homeless people. According to the Department of Children and Families' most recent report, there are 85,907 persons homeless on any given day, and only about 9,000 emergency shelter beds and an additional 13,000 transitional shelter beds available to provide lodging to the entire homeless population.

The following are frequently asked questions about homelessness. The answers will help shed light on the extent of the problem and what is being done to address homelessness in the state of Florida.

Who is Homeless in Florida?

Homelessness transcends race, gender, age, family status and educational background. It is a reality for urban, mid-sized and rural communities. Homeless people are not a monolith, therefore, a "one size fits all" solution does not exist. The following are statistics taken from the Department of Children and Families' 2006 report on homelessness in Florida :

40% of all homeless people are families
60% are single adults
8% are elderly persons over 62 years of age
23% are children age 18 or younger
What are the Causes of Homelessness?

There are many reasons people become homeless. Loss of employment, long-term illness, substance abuse, divorce, domestic violence, child abuse, institutional release and many, many more factors work to create situations where people cannot afford to pay their rent or house payments. Other factors that can cause or prolong homelessness can be attributed to defects in the system, such as lack of affordable housing, lack of space in treatment facilities for persons suffering from mental illness or substance abuse, or preventative services that could help people to remain in their homes.

How are These Problems being Addressed?

There is a very good response to the problem of homelessness at the local level. More than 1,800 service provider agencies, faith-based organizations and units of government provide services to homeless Floridians. The 27 local homeless coalitions coordinate these efforts in accordance with Florida Statutes.

Currently, the State plays a role in the administration of the following programs that directly benefit homeless people:
Emergency Financial Assistance for Housing Program(EFAHP) - Provides help to families at-risk for homelessness.

Homeless Grant-in-Aid (Direct Service) Program - Funds community-based organizations which provide a range of support services to homeless people and people about to become homeless.

Local Homeless Coalitions - Provides limited funding for local groups to ensure adequate coordination, development of needed programs and public awareness about homelessness.

Education of Homeless Children and Youth Program - This is the largest of several federal initiatives that send money to states to address the needs of homeless people. This program provides grants to school districts and other local education agencies to ensure that homeless children have equal access to a free public education.

Domestic Violence Funding - Provides funding for services addressing domestic violence prevention and treatment.

Homeless and Runaway Youth Funding - Funds programming for homeless and runaway youth.
Another important initiative that is successfully disrupting the cycle of homelessness is the Continuum of Care concept, promoted by HUD. Continuum of Care is a broad-based approach that involves the commitment from all stakeholders, public and private, to develop and coordinate a comprehensive array of housing and service options. Efforts range from outreach to chronically homeless persons living in the woods to home ownership opportunities for families transitioning to self-sufficiency. Support services are offered at every phase so that no one falls through the cracks. More than 27 communities have adopted some form of a Continuum of Care approach.

The Council on Homelessness was created in 2001 to develop policies and recommendations to reduce homelessness in Florida. The Council's mission is to develop and coordinate policy to reduce the prevalence and duration of homelessness, and work toward ending homelessness in Florida.

Despite these efforts, the response to homelessness has not reached critical mass in many communities, and homeless people are suffering. Some communities experience difficulty in garnering support from local leadership, others struggle with re-inventing a wheel that has long since been invented, and others live in communities where the resources and infrastructure to address problems do not exist.

What Can I Do To Make a Difference?

Contact the Florida Coalition for the Homeless and join today.
Join your local coalition for the homeless or any other organization that helps homeless people and get involved in their activities.
Volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen.
Talk with people who are homeless and find out what they are experiencing and how they want advocates to help them.
Encourage community leaders to support initiatives that help homeless people and that provide opportunities for them to become self-sufficient.
Urge community leaders to include the needs of homeless people in the long-range plans for your community.
Write, call or email your legislators and ask them to support the positions of the Florida Coalition for the Homeless.


US Mailing address: P.O. Box 3764 ,   Tallahassee, FL 32315 • 1.877.205.0021

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