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Leon County sees increase in homeless population amid coronavirus pandemic

Posted at 11:15 PM, Sep 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-01 23:15:07-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — Homelessness is on the rise in Leon County. Local data shows a major increase in the unsheltered homeless population since the start of 2020.

From 2015 to 2019, the Big Bend Continuum of Care saw a decrease in Leon County's unsheltered homeless population. Since COVID-19, that number has increased by 17 percent, a trend local agencies are hoping doesn't continue.

On average, there are roughly 764 people daily who are homeless in Leon County. Out of that number, about 109 are unsheltered compared to 91 in 2019.

The pandemic is a clear indicator of that rise and that number could just be the beginning.

The executive director of the Big Bend Continuum of Care, Amanda Wanders, says their worry is a possible increase when Florida's Eviction Moratorium ends.

"We're concerned we're going to see a great influx in our system when that moratorium lifts and right now we're trying to encourage people to work with the local agencies that have financial assistance," said Wanders.

The moratorium extended by Governor Ron DeSantis Monday ends on October 1.

Wanders says with CARES Act funds and local agencies providing financial assistance, it could curb the crisis they could face but if people don't take advantage, we can expect this trend to continue.

The sheltered homeless population, who has seen a decrease in its population from last year, has only had five positive COVID-19 cases out of roughly 800 people.

They are increasing the amount of outreach for people in unsheltered for distribution proper PPE.

The Big Bend Continuum of Care says they have also seen a major increase in people requesting financial assistance. If you need help, they ask that you reach out now before those funds run out. Click here for more information.