Challenges

At the 2017 annual Point in Time count, there were 251 unsheltered homeless individuals in Escambia County, but only 92 of the county's 317 Emergency Shelter beds were occupied.

Everyday Challenges

As the lead agency for the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS), Opening Doors provides the community with a streamlined tool to collect and analyze data from individuals utilizing homeless prevention service programs. This helps to prevent duplication of services and to expand the support provided to program participants. Each day our team helps members of our community overcome a variety of challenges that can lead to homelessness. We've outlined a few below.

Affordable Housing & Earning A Living Wage

Affordable Housing Can Cost 2.1x More Than Minimum Wage Earnings

Section 8 Housing Assistance

Funded by the Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher Program assists eligible low-income families, helping them pay a portion of rent to a private landlord.

SECTION 8 IN ESCAMBIA COUNTY
The City of Pensacola provides Section 8 rental assistance to qualifying households in Escambia County, but the demand for affordable rental housing far exceeds the number of vouchers available. There are currently 1,650 individuals on the waitlist for assistance in Escambia County alone.

Because of federal budget constraints, the waitlist has been closed since May 1, 2017 and new names cannot be added. Even if a household moves off Section 8 assistance, the City's Housing Division cannot issue their voucher someone else, due to the same budget challenges. For up-to-date information on the program and waitlist status, please visit the City of Pensacola's website.

SECTION 8 IN SANTA ROSA COUNTY
The Milton Housing Authority provides Section 8 assistance to approximately 342 households with vouchers. Like Escambia County, the demand for affordable rental housing far exceeds the number of vouchers available. There are currently 110 households on the waitlist in Santa Rosa County. 

Because of federal budget constraints, the waitlist has been closed since June 18, 2014 and new names cannot be added, even if program participants move out of the program. For up-to-date information on the program and waitlist, please contact the Milton Housing Authority at 850-623-0482.

Barriers of Program Entry

Even When Help is Available, It Isn't Always Easy to Access

There are a number of barriers that can prevent individuals and families from receiving the assistance they need, even when the resources are available. These barriers can inhibit entry into emergency or temporary housing, limit gainful employment opportunities and even prevent access to social security payments.

The 2017 Point in Time Count conducted by Opening Doors recorded 251 unsheltered homeless individuals, when 225 emergency shelter beds were available. Barriers to connecting homeless individuals with shelter often include:

  • Lack of transportation to shelters
  • Inability to provide ID, Social Security number or other documents required to enter the shelter
  • Fear
  • Reluctance to leave pets

Panhandling

It’s not whether to help—but how to help them!

The cure for panhandling is never your 75¢. Your gift may satisfy you for that moment, but it won’t solve that panhandler’s problems. It will, though, encourage him to keep soliciting. If you want to help him, don’t give him money. Give it to a local group working on housing, job training, mental health issues, etc. Organizations tackle those issues as efficiently and effectively as possible.