ORLANDO, Fla. — Wednesday, the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness announced their pilot program is a success.

  • 'Housing First' pilot program a success, says commission
  • Commission ID'd 100 homeless folks, got them housing
  • Since implementing, 339 chronically homeless have been housed

They implemented a ‘Housing First’ initiative a couple of years ago based on the idea that homes end homelessness. They identified 100 of the neediest people on the streets and got them housing.

“They were the ones who were in emergency rooms and in our jails the most often, and I would also tell you they were the ones who were at the gravest risk for dying on our streets,” said Rev. David Swanson with the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness.

The group included married couple Christopher Sweeney and Tiffany Anderson. Christopher said he had nowhere to go after his grandfather died.

“We were homeless on the streets of Orlando sleeping wherever we could,” he said.

“When we were homeless, I will not lie to you, it hurt. It felt horrible. You couldn’t shower, you couldn’t wash your clothes,” Tiffany added.

But getting housing through the program a year ago not only changed their lives but also saved their lives.

“(It gave us) a place to wash up, a place to call home. You don’t have to worry about getting murdered, killed. It’s rough out there. People take from people. Homeless take from homeless. I mean they don’t care. It’s a rough world out there,” Christopher explained.

The Central Florida Commission on Homelessness says since implementing its ‘Housing First’ model in 2014, some 339 chronically homeless have been housed. That’s more than triple the initial 100 they planned to help.

Their emergency room visits dropped 60 percent, trips to jail decreased 85 percent, and 96 percent still have roofs over their heads.

This model is a future solution for the commission. They’re looking for the next 500 to house.

Lynx is partnering with the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness by looking for ways to help eradicate homelessness.

You may see buses advertising “HomesAreTheAnswer.org” rolling through Orange, Osceola, and Seminole counties.