What is Homelessness

State of Florida, Council on Homelessness

The word “homeless” often brings a particular image to mind. Typically, this image is an unkempt man, apparently living on the streets, and assumed to be struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues. While that stereotype represents reality for a relatively small percentage of people who are homeless, the faces, ages, and situations of those who are homeless are widely varied.

Homelessness includes families with children, young adults, couples, single men and women, and unaccompanied youth.


The experience of homelessness is traumatic and daily survival is a challenge. People who are homeless are less likely to connect with community health care resources, engage fully in employment and education, and have stable relationships with friends and family. Homelessness exacerbates pre-existing health problems, reduces the speed and likelihood of recovery, and exposes people to more health threats. Children who experience homelessness develop more slowly, have more health issues, and are less likely to achieve in school.

How Can People Be Homeless Here?

  • Scarcity of affordable housing for low-income households
  • Unskilled workers consistently earn low wages, are underemployed or seasonally employed
  • Low-moderate income households spend more than 60% of their income on housing
  • 24% of Okaloosa county and 27% of Walton county households are unable to afford the basics (housing, food, health care, children care or transportation)
  • A health emergency and related costs can cause loss of employment, income and housing
  • Unattended mental health and substance abuse conditions