$80,000 grant may not be enough to help Osceola homeless families

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OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - WFTV learned much needed federal money is on its way to help with Osceola County’s homelessness crisis.

Hotels in the county’s tourism corridor have turned into homeless shelters for families with nowhere else to go.

“The grant will provide a security deposit, utility deposit and first-month’s rent. Usually that’s all families need to get into their own place and be self-sustaining,” said the county’s homeless advocate coordinator, Niki Whisler.

The grant will provide $80,000 over the next two years, but that amount is only enough for about 20 households.

When Frances Colon and her family moved into a hotel room on US 192, they knew it wouldn’t be easy.

“I’ve seen a lot of children and parents with nowhere to go or they’re pawning their stuff just to have a roof over their head,” Colon said.

She said she doesn’t believe $80,000 is enough to help the country’s struggling homeless families, especially considering at the hotel where she lives, almost every room is occupied.

There are currently about 4,000 homeless children in Osceola County, and the grant is expected to help about 60 of those children get into proper homes.

County leaders said it’s just a small part of a larger, long-term plan that will also include more affordable housing options, but families like the Colons said with four kids in a hotel room, they simply can’t wait.

“I’m scared, but I know as long as we do our best and keep a stable job, and save up, we can eventually try,” Colon said.

The county should have the funds ready to start helping families in July.