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Issues and Voices that Matter December 9, 2010

Homeless Forum Followup

A forum was held in November in Seminole County. Michele Saunders called it – “A Community Conversation on Homelessness.” She invited more than 40 local homeless care providers and advocates…and CMF Public Media. Feature length – 18:24

(Produced, reported and edited by Stephen McKenney Steck)

Throughout 2010, homelessness in Seminole County and Central Florida has been a recurring feature on Central Florida Matters as well as our companion web portal, Heard in Central Florida and also through several commentaries offered by local subject matter experts. A link to each of those pieces is below.

Knowledgeable homeless service providers state that in 2010 between 700 and 900 chronically homeless people are on the streets in Seminole County over the span of that year. That number does not include the near homeless, the recovering homeless or public school students of homeless parents.

In the Orlando metro area – largely defined as the counties of Seminole, Orange and Osceola, Seminole represents approximately 20 percent of the overall homeless population, yet only 4 percent of the beds accommodating and sheltering such homeless people are located in Seminole County.

In a 3-part series CMF Public Media produced and which we called “On Being Homeless in Seminole County,” caregivers, advocates, critics and homeless people addressed the problem of… the players in… and the possibilities of… improving and lowering homeless conditions in the county.

Because Seminole County government is involved in many levels of administering support for homeless people or homeless service providers, Michele Saunders, in her role as director of community services for the county became a principal source of information to us and a mostly neutral 3rd party to those agencies increasingly stepping up to develop focus and momentum toward resolving homeless issues.

It is Saunders whom we featured on Part-3 of our series which addressed the “possibilities” of a more aggressive and effective solution to the homeless condition.

In that feature produced in June 2010, Saunders announced her intent to host a community forum to begin a process to inclusively address the issue and develop a county-wide plan.

Now , 6-months later, we followup via telephone with Saunders, and others, on the outcome of that forum held and what next to expect on this journey toward a solution to …being homeless in Seminole County.

Extended Interview & Pictures

Click on the picture(s) to enlarge.
Michele Saunders
director, Community Services, Seminole County Government


Extended interview (27:33)

Bakari Burns
chief executive officer of the Health Care Center for the Homeless


Extended interview (08:46)

Cathy Jackson
executive director of the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida


Extended interview (11:29)

Father John Bluett
pastor of Saint Stephen Catholic Church


Extended interview (08:08)


Additional Feature Information

Links to other podcasts produced by CMF Public Media on homelessness

Useful links to issues addressed by Michele Saunders and others

One Response to “Homeless Forum Followup”

  1. Dear Stephen,
    I listened to your post of the “Conversation” on Homelessness; you did a great job interviewing Michele and the others.

    I was in the meeting with Michele and several others, and I can tell you, it is a large undertaking to provide for the homeless; but with the leadership in Seminole County and the collaboration of so many wonderful non-profits, we will accomplish more now than ever before!!! I am very encouraged with what Michele and many others are doing now to promote an unprecedented collaboration, which will work together in ways that this county has never experienced. There are great organizations in Seminole that have come together, laying aside their own agendas and learning how to share in the overall vision, together meeting the needs of the people of Seminole County.

    I like to say it like this, “If those who gather much increase, share with those who have little, there will be no lack!”

    Thank you again for sending the post, keep up the good work! _ Pastor John Murphy/Harvest Time Int’l

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