‘It’s a Hard Life:’ Homeless Population Rising in Orlando’s 32801 ZIP Code Area

ORLANDO, Florida. – Organizations that provide homeless shelter are struggling to keep up with the growing number of people living without shelter in downtown Orlando.

“It’s a hard life,” Alicia said. “It’s hard being this old.”

Alicia wouldn’t give her last name, but she said she recently slept in the grass at Lake Eola Park, right next to her bags containing all of her belongings.

“God came to me and said that me and every member of my family — we were all going to go to heaven to live there, and I’ve been trying to get there ever since,” she told News 6.

She said that was 12 years ago.

“I am very sick with diabetes so I take breaks every now and then, but for the past seven years I have been homeless,” she said.

The Homeless Services Network of Central Florida just completed its annual Point In Time count of people living without a roof over their heads.

In Orange County, the number increased by 105% compared to 2023. More than half of the people counted were over 65 years old.

“You know, downtown is definitely where most of the services are,” said HSN CEO Martha Are. “It’s where the big buildings are, and where people think they can get the most help.”

There are three main reasons for the increasing number of homeless people:

  • A lack of affordable housing

  • Rising rents

  • Landlords are evicting more people from their homes if they can no longer pay the rent

According to her, people over 65 are unfairly affected by this.

“If more people become homeless and we don’t have places for them to sleep, then more people will become homeless,” Are said. “That trend is not going to stop until we create more housing opportunities and more sleeping capacity. We need to create more housing throughout the region, in every corner of the region.”

Finding the money to do all that is one problem. Finding a neighborhood willing to make room for these shelters is another.

They say they are working on both, but she admits there is no short-term, cut-and-dried solution.

She said it will take time to find a solution and the community must help with that.

See how Tampa is solving the problem with city-funded tent cities:

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