Community wide efforts are absolutely necessary to substantially impact homelessness in our neighborhoods and cities. Estimates from HUD put chronically homeless numbers in Greater Winter Haven in the range of 50-100 (1/25/2013), but getting a hard number is tricky. First, those with intermittent homelessness or those who mover from place to place (couch surfers) are difficult to identify. Secondly, the chronically homeless, tend to live outside of our day to day view. Nevertheless, the problem exists and it affects members of our community.
Winter Haven has to find innovative ways towards doing their part to change the thought process!
One subgroup in homelessness is found on our campusses, both K-12 and on our college campus at Polk State.
Imagine the Face of Homeless Person
Many people are unaware who the homeless really are in Central Florida. Many people are surprised to learn that 80% of our community’s homeless are families and children. This is a statistic that is rising more and more as our shelters, streets, and forests are being filled with families barely surviving in silence. Most of those families impacted were getting by just fine before one unfortunate event led to their homelessness. Living in tents in forests or using cars as temporary homes is the new reality for so many Central Florida families.
While Winter Haven does have an emergency shelter for single women and women with children, there is little to no supportive housing that gives them a safe place and time to “get life in order.” Homeless men in Winter Haven, have no options. We currently have no emergency shelter or transitional housing options for men who need a shelter in a storm, or a place to recuperate when they are not well.
Heart for Winter Haven, together with GiveWell, local businesses, Rotary clubs and other organizations, in late 2019 to early 2020 we renovated a home near Polk State's Winter Haven campus. This project is providing a housing option for enrolled Polk County college students who face the unjust challenges of homelessness while completing their academic studies.
For information on the Scholarship House, click HERE.
Community wide efforts are absolutely necessary to substantially impact homelessness in our neighborhoods and cities. Here are some local organizations that are working to tackle homlessness.