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Homelessness in Okaloosa County

Because of the tremendous concern and myriad of issues surrounding homelessness in Okaloosa County, the Greater Fort Walton Beach Chamber of Commerce was pleased to bring this community the deliberation series on homelessness. Solving the problem of homelessness requires the resources and talents of our entire community. In addressing the problems of homelessness, not only will we better the lives of those living on the streets, in woods, and vehicles, we will also better our own lives. It is not the Chamber’s goal to manage any of the programs or processes that come from this deliberation series. –we are here to bring everyone together and facilitate the opportunities we know will come from this endeavor.

Homelessness is much more that the vagrants on street corners holding their signs looking for a handout. However, many times those vagrants are the “face” of homelessness and can detract from the hundreds of homeless individuals and families going about their lives invisibly—those who truly desire to better their lives and rise above their circumstances. All homeless people impact our community: from the negative impact of the many vagrants panhandling, to those sleeping in the backs of buildings, in our woods and on our beaches, to the homeless children attending school with our own children. It is a complex problem, requiring forward thinking and innovative approaches.

While there are a tremendous number of individuals, agencies and charities working tirelessly to assist those less fortunate, and doing a yeoman’s job in the process, we believe if we all come together to work on solutions to the problem, many more people can be helped. More importantly, we believe that as a community we can actually solve many of the issues the homeless face on a day-to-day basis and get them back as productive members of our community. We also understand that it will take more than just sitting around and talking about the problem to solve it –it is going to take action, follow-up, and continual process review to implement the solutions our community initiates to move toward a solution. We are confident that the necessary community members will rise to the challenge and Okaloosa County can erase this unfathomable issue to that no one ever has to sleep out-of-doors again and we will abate homelessness!

Thank you for your willingness to help make our community an ever better place to live.