Dr. Rajni Shankar-Brown, associate professor of Social Justice Education at Stetson University, talks about the many faces of homelessness during the event Hunger and Homelessness in the U.S. She mentions two types of individuals she has worked with in the past that are experiencing homelessness. In both situations the individuals are single parents with multiple children.
During the event, Shankar-Brown further elaborates on the substance abuse issues homeless individuals face. Amber Finnicum- Simmons, a Neighborhood Center volunteer and Stetson honor student, says that individuals who struggle with substance abuse are usually the individuals she sees struggling with mental health issues. She says that individuals and families on the verge of homelessness are going to be scared and anxious.
“Homelessness isn’t just like the stereotype you see in the movies with the man on the street; the sector of homelessness that is growing is actually families, so you get that stereotype of druggie and this, this, and that, but it’s actually mostly families that were hit hard by the recession,” says Sompi Harmetz, president of Habitat for Humanity at Stetson.
As reported by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, homelessness amongst families with children is the fastest growing homeless population in the nation. Most people who face the risk of becoming homeless are single-parent families that have either lost their jobs or their main source of income. They can’t afford to pay their bills or provide food for their children. For many families this is their first time ever being in a situation where they might become homeless.
Shankar-Brown says that there are many homeless families in the Deland area. The city of Deland has a large homeless population because about 19 percent of the population, including children and elderly are below the poverty line. In comparison, the U.S. poverty average is 15 percent.
In the Volusia County region, the 2013 Point-In-Time (PIT) survey, which counts the amount of homeless individuals in 24 hours, totaled 2,176 homeless individuals. This number includes households consisting of children, teenagers, young adults, and adults past the age of 25. The total is divided into two categories: individuals in emergency/transitional housing and individuals without any sort of shelter. There are about 1,500 unsheltered