Ending Homelessness in Tallahassee

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The Big Bend Homeless Coalition says the homeless problem is more widespread then most may think.

Barbara, last name withheld, says she tried to find a place she could afford before moving to Tallahassee, but it didn't happen.

"If you go and work and get a good paying job, all your money is going to your rent. You can't get food, you can't get something to eat, your medical bills."

She's one of the lucky few to find refuge with Tallahassee's HOPE Community, a community aimed at helping families get back on their feet, but there's not enough room to help everyone struggling to find housing.

The Homeless Coalition says finding a way to pay the rent is a problem thousands of Leon County residents face each year. As a result, it's estimated more than 6,000 of them will find themselves without a permanent home at some point this year.

Kay Freeman with the Big Bend Homeless Coalition says that's mostly due to the lack of affordable housing.

"In our community the average two bedroom apartment is more than $700 a month. If you're earning minimum wage, you're either working 88 hours a week to afford that apartment or you're earning $13.01 an hour."

Tallahassee's Ten Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness is focusing on the affordable housing issue. The plan includes building at least 100 affordable units within the first year of its implementation and providing rental or eviction assistance to stop homelessness before it starts.

Freeman said, "They want to take care of themselves and live independently and we want our community to understand that."

Community awareness is another target of the plan. The Homeless Coalition says most people don't understand how easy it can be for some families to wind up without a home.