OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - 9 Investigates
": Homeless get nowhere applying for unused grants in Osceola County
An advocate for the homeless is speaking out about her frustration with Osceola County.
Last week, 9 Investigates showed how almost $1 million meant to help the homeless sat mostly unused for two years.
Now, Channel 9 has learned some of the people who could have used that money were turned away.
At just 14, Sue Loney was already a prostitute and has spent most of her life addicted to drugs.
"In and out of jail and I told the
Lord, 'Lord, I'm tired,'" said Loney.
Loney found hope at Life in the Son, a ministry founded by Jan Demond five years ago.
"She's been like a mom to me, because my mother didn't really care about me," said Loney.
But the woman who has helped hundreds of homeless people in Osceola is fed up with a county she said isn’t doing enough.
9 Investigates looked into federal grants totaling almost $1 million that were awarded to the county in 2011. Only three people received assistance with the money in two years.
"I couldn't believe they had this money for this long because I just found about it in the spring," said Demond.
Demond said she's referred at least 12 people to the county in the last six weeks, all potential candidates for the grant money. She said some never got a call back, while others were simply rejected.
"Most of them couldn't tell me what they were turned down for," said Demond.
No one from the county would speak to Channel 9 on camera Wednesday, but in an email a spokesman said all candidates are referred to Park Place Behavioral Health Care, where experts decide who qualifies.
The spokesman said Park Place has been an "excellent" partner.
If that's the case, Demond wants to know why aren't there bigger results?
"I'm not trying to stir up animosity here. I'm just trying to get something done because these people need help," she said.
The county has helped six more people with the money in the last six months and it is now looking into Demond's claims.