ORLANDO, Fla. — In December of 2022, we introduced you to Amber Mansour, a single mom who never thought she and her kids would end up without a home.
She told us, “It played a toll on them and was traumatizing for them. It’s not an ideal place for anybody, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.”
And she wasn’t alone.
Thousands of children in the area live in hotels, cars or on the streets, and some of that is due to the increase in the cost of housing.
The homeless coalition says for every $100 increase in rent, homelessness goes up 9%.
Mansour worked triple shifts and finally got into a place to call her own, but some have not yet found a place and are still sleeping wherever they can.
Felicia Prosser told us, “I really haven’t had a good night’s sleep, and since 2018 just, you know, it’s just been stressful.”
In the eight months since our first report, the number of homeless children has increased a lot.
The homeless coalition calls it staggering.
Look at the statistics just from last year.
Currently, Osceola has 1,129 children experiencing homelessness, a 98% increase from last year.
In Seminole County, if trends continue, it will surpass pandemic numbers.
Already, there are 1,360 homeless students, an 80% jump from last August, and in Orange County, there were 1,500 last year at the start of school.
This year, that number is 2,500 on the first day.
This is something the coalition isn’t used to seeing at this level.
Martha Are is the Executive director of the homeless coalition here in Central Florida.
She said people she has never seen come through their doors before have now become part of the system, telling us, “We have people who used to live in our neighborhoods who have lost their housing, not because the people changed because of the housing has changed.”
Right now, there is no easy fix because there are few affordable housing units in Central Florida.
That means many of these kids could spend most of their school year unsettled.
©2023 Cox Media Group