Seeking solutions to homelessness in Volusia County

By Jason Wheeler, Reporter 
Last Updated: Saturday, January 21, 2012 5:54 PM
For the 100 or so people who gathered in a room inside the student union building on the Stetson University campus, there was no surprise that Volusia County is dealing with a rising homeless population.
But what surprised some people is the number of families who don't have a regular place to call home and that some programs are working.
The forum on homelessness included presentations and discussions with the goal of updating elected leaders and community members about the state of homelessness in Volusia County.
Lisa Hamilton is the executive director of the Volusia/Flagler Coalition for the Homeless and has given her presentation to a number of groups.
But she tells News 13 that this group was different, because so many people who were in attendance can make things happen.
"We have the people in the room who have the will and the concern, the commitment and the ability to bring together the properties and funding in the areas where we need service," said Hamilton.
One of the biggest areas of service is, again among families. Hamilton said it's not inconceivable that 40 percent or more of homeless families wouldn't be in that situation if someone in that family had a regularly paying job.
Shawn Lane also spoke at the forum. He founded Cudas Unhooked three years ago. It's a group helping homeless kids at New Smyrna Beach High School.
They even have a home for seniors determined to stay in school and graduate, something all 18 seniors in the program last year did.
Following his presentation, Lane was stopped by a handful of people asking for more information.
He too was upbeat about just who he was talking to Saturday morning and that this group can and will now step up.
"There's someone sitting there right now who feels led to do something. I think someone, or multiple people are going to go do something. Yes, I do," said Lane.
We'll get a better idea of the number of homeless following this week's Point-in-Time count.
It's a 24-hour period where volunteers fan out to camps, shelters and other areas to count and speak with those who do not have a home. They'll also give people information on social services available to help them.
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