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Homelessness is a regional problem

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By The Staff

People who worked every day of their adult life are becoming homeless.

Families with homes who played by the rules are becoming homeless. Seniors facing foreclosure from a loss of income are becoming homeless. The young who’ve lost jobs are becoming homeless.

The face of homelessness is changing and it grows without smile, but with shame. The embarrassment of not being able to take care of one’s self and needing help from others brings despair. Even some former business owners who once helped others need help.

While there are a few “gypsy” homeless, who have cut themselves off from society, the vast majority are, by the grace of God, no different than the rest of us. They paid taxes. They owned, or rented an apartment or house.

With unemployment topping 11 percent in Citrus County and 12 percent in Marion County, more people are on the brink of homelessness. This unemployment rate does not even count “discouraged workers” who don’t show up in statistics.

Every day, 10 to 20 people contact the Family Resource Center wondering what to do. Many have families. They face eviction, or foreclosure. Their money has run out. Even if they know of a job elsewhere, they have no money for a bus ticket. What should they do? Options are few and their predicament is great. For some, the last option becomes a tent in the woods.

It speaks to the depth of the problem when you discover what helping agencies such as Dunnellon’s Annie W. Johnson Senior and Family Service need: tents, sleeping bags and coolers. Homelessness is such a big problem, yet it can be softened with such little assistance.

Many good people don’t know what to do. What should we do? Pretend the problem does not exist? Blame the homeless for their plight? Hope someone else does something? You can do something by donating the above mentioned items to the Family Resource Center.

Even though it is hot now, within a few months the need for cold weather shelters will be upon us. Through the efforts of many dedicated people a system of notification and transportation of the homeless to shelters is in place. The final piece of assistance is for volunteers to man these sites on the cold nights and for a church to take in woman and children.

If you or your organization is interested in helping one of the caring organizations involved with the homeless contact Barbara Wheeler with the Mid Florida Homeless Coalition at 860-2308. Find your niche in helping our community, whether it’s collecting blankets, jeans, sneakers, or flashlights.