• Disney to help solve homeless problem in Osceola


    OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. - Channel 9 got the inside details about a plan to tackle the huge homeless population in Osceola County.

    The effort is being backed by Disney.

    Leaders said the issue can't wait anymore.

    Jessica Rodriguez can't hold back the tears talking about life in motel rooms along U.S. 192.

    "I think about my kids. I think about if they're going to take a shower, if they're going to eat, have a place to sleep," Rodriguez said.

    Rodriguez, her husband and their children are just one of hundreds of families stuck in the same scenario: parents who are unemployed or paid too little to afford anything beyond weekly room rentals.

    "It kills me every day when I wake up in the same situation that we're in," Rodriguez said.

    Homeless advocates and county leaders said they are working to finally turn things around.

    Andrae Bailey heads the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness. He said there will be an upcoming summit where leaders will receive the latest numbers on homeless families and discuss jobs, affordable housing and other possible solutions.

    "Everyone in Osceola County knows we have to address this problem now," Bailey said.

    Eyewitness News asked Bailey how that will be different from previous efforts.

    "We're bringing together the type of people who can make a difference," Bailey said.

    That includes Disney, who will sponsor the event to the deal with the problem on its doorstep.

    "All of us that care about the economics of central Florida, we have to care when we see the number of homeless people continue to rise," Bailey said.

    Families like Rodriguez just hope it works.

    "It's like we're stuck in a trap we'll never get out of," Rodriguez said.

    A typical hotel room houses families with three or four kids.

    The ultimate goal is to return it to the tourists. The summit in Osceola is planned for January and there will be others in Orange and Seminole counties.

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    Disney to help solve homeless problem in Osceola