The sight of a homeless person can arouse emotions, such as compassion, anger, contempt or fear. For those who have never experienced homelessness, it may be difficult to understand how one could even ever become homeless.
What Creates Homelessness?
For example, I’ve met three people in my lifetime who have lost their homes to fire. Two of them are from Lake County, FL. Although the three people I have met were fortunate in that sense that their friends, family, co-workers and/or community rallied around them, unfortunately, not everyone has a strong, supportive social network.
Other events which can lead to homelessness include unemployment, chronic illness, alcohol and/or drug abuse, mental illness, divorce, flight from domestic violence, flight from child abuse (runaways) and release from incarceration.
Oftentimes, the homeless are told to “get a job”; however, Lake County’s unemployment rate for February 2014 was 6.6 percent, in contrast to the state’s unemployment rate of 6.2 percent. Furthermore, the mentally ill, for example, have difficulty holding a job. Also, there are homeless people with jobs who cannot afford to pay rent, because of the new trend of corporations currently keeping workers under thirty hours a week, which has been blamed on Obamacare, according to various news outlets.
The Hidden Homeless
Through public records, I randomly found one homeless person (referred to as a “transient”) who listed his “home” as: Cauthen Cir and US 27. Another homeless (“transient”) listed his “home” as: behind Odd Fellow Club in the woods by Virginia Dr and wooded area by Williams St.
Known homeless camps in Leesburg are also located in the various woods: behind a convenience store located on Picciola Rd across from Walgreens; behind Aldi’s (near Walmart) US 27; and, near the Macedonia Church of the Living God on Griffin Rd.
Lake County’s population is estimated at 297,052, while Leesburg’s population is estimated at 20,117. According to The Council on Homelessness 2013 Report, the 2013 count reported 282 individuals as homeless in Lake County, FL. This count was performed “on one day and one night in January 2013”. The homeless count was 1,019 in 2011. The “2013 count was not able to get out into the woods, compared to the past street count”. Therefore, it is my conclusion that the 737 less homeless people are most-likely located in the woods: either solo, in pairs or group homeless camps.
Florida is listed as having 8.7 percent of the nation’s homeless population. This is a large segment of the total amount of homeless people in America. It is not going to get any better by itself. Perhaps, it is time to head out to our local woods and find ways to assist the Leesburg, FL hidden homeless population.
List of Leesburg, FL area homeless shelters.