The HUD survey in 2023 found that, among U.S. states, Florida had the fourth-most homeless people, at 31,000 people – a count that rose 18% from 2022.

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla.  – On any given night last year, nearly 653,000 people – or one in every 500 – were homeless, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Out of all the states in the country, Florida had the fourth-most homeless people, at 31,000 people, which is up 18% from 2022.

On Thursday, hundreds of volunteers took to the streets, not only to count how many people experiencing homelessness there are, but to connect them with any resources they may need.

“I have been homeless almost all my time here,” said Royan Llewellyn, who is experiencing homelessness in the Tampa Bay area.

Llewellyn has been experiencing homelessness for more than 5 years and is just one of many.

“Given the fact that we do have an increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness, having continuums of care to make sure that people receive the resources is absolutely critical,” said Jennifer Riley Collins, regional administrator for HUD.

Volunteers took part in the annual survey, Point In Time Count, one day this past week. The count is done through the Tampa Hillsborough Homelessness Initiative and partnering with the Tampa/Hillsborough County Continuum of Care member organizations.

“Having a point in time count gives us a sample estimate, statistical estimate, for what those experiencing homelessness, so we can make sure there are more resources available,” Collins said.

“A lot of people were coming up to us and telling us that we didn’t even know something like this occurs,” said Austin Lane, a volunteer.

There are several issues facing people today, whether it’s struggling from the pandemic or the cost of living.

“If we can get the cost of housing down, I think we’re better off. I think that’s the biggest problem that we have,” said Antoinette Hays-Triplett, CEO for Tampa Hillsborough Homeless Initiative.

“I was doing work with my painting license, but I have not accomplished enough money to pay rent,” Llewellyn said.

Not only are officials seeing an increase in homelessness among older demographics, but also younger people.

“Working families sleeping in their cars, those are some things that we’re concerned about,” Hays-Triplett said.

Llewellyn said it’s very hard to not have a house to come home to each night.

“The government assists me with the food stamps of $282, so that keeps me alive and to survive,” he said.

He said he’s hopeful the resources the county provides can help him.

“My dream is that God is going to open doors for me,” he said.

Officials said it looks like there will not be a huge increase, but they will be able to determine that in the next month or two.

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Author: kimh