There are more than 4,000 homeless persons in Orange, Osceola, and Seminole Counties on any given night, with less than 2,500 available beds. Some individuals and/or families do not have the resources to return to self-sufficiency and stable housing in Central Florida, but may have such resources in another part of the state or US.
Research-based family reunification programs are based on four principles:
- Client needs assessment
- Client participation in the decision process
- Investigation and evaluation of resources in both locations
- Confirmed buy-in by family hosting the relocated homeless household
The assessment process is thorough and fair:
- Clients are assessed to determine the barriers they have to become housed in their current location (no job, poor credit, no transportation, skills that don’t match current employment opportunities).
- Clients are asked if they have family with resources in another city to help them become housed and self-sufficient (extra space to house the homeless family without violating a lease or housing code; available medical services; assistance with childcare; potential job opportunity; local church support).
- Family members are carefully interviewed by phone to determine if sufficient resources are available and the family is willing to provide housing for the clients.
- Clients are asked to choose which setting they believe will provide the best and fastest setting for a return to housing and self-sufficiency.
- If they choose, clients receive transportation assistance.
- Clients are called two days, two weeks, and two months after they complete their travel to assess housing stability and link them to needed local services.
Homeless Services Network has found through its own pilot program in 2008-2009 that a Homeward Bound program, when properly implemented, can best serve the needs of a small segment of the more than 10,000 homeless in Orange, Osceola and Seminole Counties.
Homeward Bound assistance has limited availability because HSN has yet to obtain permanent program funding and there remains such great demand for this service. Whenever HSN is able to secure any funding, we will process requests for assistance on a first-come, first-served basis. To find out if funding is available and if you are eligible for assistance, please call HSN’s Housing Department at 407-893-0133, option 3.