OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. — Homeless advocates have fought for more emergency services in Osceola County for years, saying they have to send people to other counties to get help.
Channel 9 anchor Nancy Alvarez has covered for years the number of homeless families evicted from motels along U.S. 192 with nowhere else to go.
Carmelo Garcia has been working to help the homeless in Osceola County for six years. In that time, he said he’s sent dozens of families in need to Orlando for services.
“I feel horrible about it, because Osceola County has its problems. We should deal with it,” Garcia said.
Garcia and other advocates plan to make a formal plea to Osceola County commissioners next week to have an emergency homeless shelter established.
At least one commissioner is already on board for the plan.
“I'm looking around for all the ideas,” said Osceola County Commissioner Peggy Choudary.
Choudary was elected in November and used to own a hotel along the U.S. 192 corridor where homelessness has been a huge problem. She said she’s seen the problem first-hand.
“(I've seen) a woman with an infant and a 3-year-old that came out of the hospital after giving birth and had no place to go until the next day when her family was going to pick her up,” Choudary said.
Choudary let that woman stay the night, but said motels are not the solution.
Choudary said she’s researching potential buildings that could be used for people in transition.
“We want something that's going to work. Not the old-fashioned shelter that is a revolving door,” Choudary said.
Osceola County has devoted resources to projects offering long-term affordable housing with support services, but there's been no movement on a center where 24/7 emergency services are available.
Garcia said it’s way overdue.
“These people are struggling. They need help now. Not help later. Not we're working on it, thinking about it. Help now,” Garcia pleaded.
Cox Media Group