WUFT News

Group surveys Alachua County’s homeless

By , and on January 29th, 2013
A woman sits by a fire in tent city waiting to take the homeless count survey.

Jessica Kegu / WUFT News

A woman sits by a fire in tent city.

One man’s reluctance to leave his tent did not dissuade Willy Smith from getting the information he wanted.

Tuesday morning, Smith, 52, helped administer the annual Point-in-Time Count of homeless persons survey at tent city, a homeless camp near the Hawthorne Trail. The survey, which asks homeless people a series of questions about their situations, is an effort to create an accurate picture of homelessness in the area.

Willy Smith, volunteer, administers a survey to Victoria Morehouse in tent city located off of the Hawthorne Trail.

Jessica Kegu / WUFT News

Willy Smith, volunteer, administers a survey to Victoria Morehouse in tent city located off of the Hawthorne Trail.

Smith is also homeless. So are the majority of the count’s volunteers.

After a few failed attempts to bring the man out of his tent, Smith read the questions loud enough for him to hear through the plastic. Where did you sleep last night? What is the highest level of education you have completed? Were you ever in foster care? Do you have a disabling condition?

After he finished, he handed off a bag of food to the man’s fiancee and continued down a dirt path deeper into the woods and into tent city.

The survey is organized locally by the Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry, which partners with Veterans Affairs. It is part of a larger national effort to count the homeless every year.

Theresa Lowe, executive director of the Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry, shows on a map where many of the homeless in Gainesville live.

Jessica Kegu / WUFT News

Theresa Lowe, executive director of the Alachua County Coalition for the Homeless and Hungry, shows on a map where many of the homeless in Gainesville live.

The goal is not just to gather numbers, but also to better understand the situation and needs of the homeless community. The survey’s results will be released Friday.

Theresa Lowe, the coalition’s executive director, said about 200 people signed up to help this year. The coalition had to reduce the maximum number of hours someone could be paid to volunteer from four to two. Most volunteers were compensated, and they received $10 for each hour.

Though the volunteers received their money prior to delivering the survey, Lowe said she has never had a problem with people returning the surveys at the end of their shift.

The historic DaCosta house in Downtown Gainesville served as the headquarters. People milled in and out throughout the morning greeting friends and acquaintances. The survey began at 4 a.m. and is expected to continue until 11 p.m.

Deirdre Ware, 41, stuffed Ziploc bags with Rice Krispies Treats, chocolate pudding, peanut butter crackers, Vienna sausages and other food that would be given out to the people who took the survey. Ware is part of the coalition’s board as a representative of the homeless. She said she has never been homeless herself, but as a single mother of six, she understands the struggle.

She’s the founder of 1,000 Smiles, a group she recently started with a purpose of advocating for a residential building to provide services and programs for the homeless.

“This is who I am,” she said. “This is the best thing other than my own children.”


This entry was posted in Local and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
 

More Stories in Local

IMG_1999

Tornado Damages Homes Near Ocala Monday

More than 50 homes were damaged in two separate neighborhoods southwest of Ocala Monday afternoon as severe thunderstorms rolled through.


Cars drive past the filled-in potholes and cracks. Permanent road repairs are not expected until after July 2016. Ronnie Socash / WUFT News

No Immediate Fix for SW 62nd Boulevard Road Conditions

Despite continual repairs to Southwest 62nd Boulevard, commuters will still have to drive along the road’s potholes and “alligator cracks” until it is reconstructed in 2016. Once a project development and environment study is completed, the city of Gainesville can work on a $45.2 million project that will turn Southwest 62nd Boulevard from a two-lane road into a four-lane road.


UF football player JC Jackson was arrested yesterday for his involvement in an armed Robbery on Saturday.  He is currently in the ASO jail on a $150,000 bond.

UF Football Player Arrested After Armed Robbery, Released On $150,000-Bond

University of Florida football player J.C. Jackson has been released on $150,000-bond. Jackson was arrested Monday after turning himself in for his involvement in an armed robbery.


Scott Camil, 68, points to a cartoon depicting himself and other members of the Gainesville Eight at their trial. The original cartoon was given to him by the artist, Bill Day. The Gainesville Eight was the name given to a group of anti-Vietnam war protestors charged with conspiracy to disrupt the 1972 Republican National Convention in Miami.

Vietnam War Veteran Rejects Violence, Embraces Peace

Vietnam War veteran Scott Camil once believed the war to be right and honorable. Now, Camil is the founder of Gainesville Veterans for Peace, an organization that partners with other organizations around the area to promote peace.


David Cleveland sits outside his tent in Dignity Village near Grace Marketplace Tuesday, March 10, 2015. Cleveland's campsite is located on a 10 acre span of land that the city of Gainesville will lease from the state.

City Aquires Land Surrounding GRACE Marketplace

The city is finalizing an agreement to use 10 acres of land currently occupied by Dignity Village homeless encampment which could create a more regulated environment.


Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments