Homelessness growing among those seeking work in SWFL from out of state

Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News.

An unsettling trend in Southwest Florida lies with the growing homeless population. More and more people are without jobs and forced to fend for themselves on the streets. We looked at what is being done to fix this problem.

At St. Matthew’s House in Collier County, people experiencing homelessness are given shelter, some not from Florida.

Many individuals from out of state come here to find work and hope for the best.

“I’m trying to do what I can to survive down here,” said Jamie Whiting, who currently doesn’t live with a roof over his head.

Whiting walks the streets of North Naples with a sign that says, “Homeless; anything helps.” And he hopes that someone does.

“I came down to Naples with a friend and my family, and he brought us down here to look for work,” Whiting said.

His friend left them stranded and without a trace.

“It’s a big letdown,” Whiting said. “It’s kind of when he left us our heart broken because we didn’t know anything down here.”

Whiting is used to doing manual labor, but his injury makes it hard to keep steady employment. This is also common among other people in similar situations. As business slows down during the summer months, some people lose their jobs.

According to United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, there are more than 32,000 people experiencing homelessness in Florida, which ranks third in the U.S. behind No. 1 California with more than 134,000 and No. 2 New York with over 89,000.

“Scary, very scary,” Whiting said. “I had leave somewhere where I didn’t have work and come down here to try and find work. It’s scary to come down to a new place.”

But now, whiting is doing what he can do to provide for his family.

While we were with Whiting a passerby went up to him to give him money and told him, “Things will get better.”

MORE: Nonprofits say homelessness rising in Collier County

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