Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Homelessness Becomes a Norm for Several Generations

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Homelessness Becomes a Norm for Several Generations

Article excerpt

Byline: TONYYA WEATHERSBEE

When Audrey Moran goes to work at Sulzbacher Center for the Homeless, she finds scenes that trouble her.

"The other day, I saw a mother and four children at the front of the [meal] line," said Moran, who is president and CEO of the center. "I'm starting to see generations of homeless people coming together ... I'm starting to hear a normalcy about this from the kids, like this is something that happens to everybody ... that everybody spends time in a shelter.

"[But] it's not normal. It's a crisis."

During a recent gathering at Jacksonville Community Council Inc., Moran talked about how the recession was pushing more people into shelters and onto the streets. She was joined by Bill Scheu, a local attorney who once chaired a task force aimed at ending homelessness in Jacksonville

The numbers are sobering.

Between July of 2008 and June of this year, the number of people that sought shelter at the Sulzbacher Center grew by 20 percent from the year before. During that same period, it served 431,596 meals - an increase of 3,888 from the previous year.

And that increase isn't being driven by people who are battling drugs, or the stereotypical slackers seeking free meals or a convenient place to crash. The increase is being driven by husbands and wives, mothers and fathers, grandmothers and aunts, and other household members who have all lost their jobs, and who have nowhere else to turn.

Yet, while the increases in homelessness underscore the depths of this economic crisis, it also reveals something else: The fallout from all the years this city spent trying to hide homelessness rather than end it.

Scheu knows about that.

He and Wanda Lanier, the former head of the Emergency Services and Homeless Coalition of Jacksonville, Inc. …

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