Florida Receives Millions in Grant Funding for the Homeless

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Arthur Whitfield spent three years of his life in an area homeless shelter. He now has permanent housing, a steady job and has gone back to school.

"When you're homeless, you're homeless. You don't have food or a place to sleep. You have to go somewhere and do something," says Whitfield.

Stories like Whitfield's are made possible by programs which are sustained by grant dollars. Wednesday, more than $65 million of funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development was awarded to the state of Florida.

"These dollars go to places like the HOPE Community in Tallahassee to build facilities and assist individuals from homelessness to a permanent place of their own," says Nick Shelley with Florida Housing and Urban Development.

In Leon County about a million dollars will be divided between the City of Tallahassee and the Big Bend Homeless Coalition.

Kay Freeman works with the HOPE Community, which provides housing for those trying to get back on their feet. She says the money will be used wisely.

Kay says, "In the one year that the HOPE Community has been opened, we've served 206 people and 141 have been moved to permanent stable housing. That's a 70 percent success rate."

The funding comes at a time when Florida has reportedly seen a rise in homelessness due to the 2004 hurricane season.

A recent survey on Florida homelessness reports that on any given day there are close to 84,000 people without permanent housing.