Thousands homeless in Central Florida despite homelessness plan

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ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. —

Central Florida's Commission on Homelessness vowed to solve the homeless problem within 10 years in 2008, but more than 30,000 people in the Orlando area are still without a home.

"It's really tough. It could happen to anybody," said Jason Herman, who lives in a homeless shelter.

Herman drove his wife and 8-and 9-year-old daughters from New Jersey to Orlando two months ago to start a new chapter of their life.

"Got here…our landlord is gone," said Dina Herman.

The family was scammed and lost everything, and Dina Herman said she had to pawn her wedding ring to buy gas so that she could get her family to the Orlando Union Rescue Mission.

"It's hard. It's tough," Jason Herman said.

With its rebranding campaign called Rethink Homelessness, the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness wants the community to hear stories of people similar to the Herman family.

The commission's Facebook page plans on breaking a record for "likes" among local charities and by sharing stories similar to the Herman's. They hope the community will support their efforts.

"You're seeing new methodologies in housing the homeless around the country," said Andrae Bailey of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness.

Bailey and his team studied programs that slashed homeless rates in other cities. Bailey said the 30,000 people who are considered homeless in Orange, Seminole and Osceola County are people like the Herman's who would have never expected to end up without a place to go.

"Every day is a new day," Jason Herman said.

Administrators said they receive about 50 calls a day from people in the community needing help.

The commission said homelessness is growing the most among women and children. The panel plans to announce its new approach within the next few months.