Community comes together for homeless families

SEMINOLE COUNTY, Fla. - More than 16 million American kids are living in poverty, an added 3 million more since the start of the great recession.

CBS Evening News anchor Scott Pelley reports one of the places where the problem is greatest is Central Florida. Before Thanksgiving, schools in Seminole County invited homeless families to hear about services available to them, and about 2,000 homeless people crowded into Winter Springs High School. Most of them were families like the Fords: Daphne, Michael and their four children.

Daphne was a high school teacher who left her job so that Michael could follow work in construction. They had a son and a daughter. The twins came next, then came the great recession.

To learn more about the organization "Families In Transition" - the social services organization featured in this story - click here. The organization works with homeless students in the Seminole County schools.

Daphne said her husband "Started out making $14.50 an hour. That was going very smoothly. We had a home and everything. And his, thanks to recession, his job got really, really slow."

"We ended up losing our home, losing pretty much everything in it," Daphne added. "The only thing we have pretty much is what we took is clothing-wise and ourselves."

She hasn't found a job. Florida's been laying off teachers. Her husband's making $7.35 an hour in a fast food restaurant as a part-time worker with no benefits. The Fords are living day-to-day in a cheap motel.

"You know, we're grateful for whatever we have," Daphne said. "But it's the worrying about where we're gonna get the money for the next day and food for the next day."

Watch "60 Minutes" - Hard Times Generation: Families living in cars

So many live in motels now that the Seminole schools had to change the bus routes to pick up the kids. CBS News found students living in cars and trucks, like Austin and Arielle Metzger, who were featured on "60 Minutes" Sunday night. They get cleaned up each morning in gas stations.

Beth Davalos, who runs homeless programs for Seminole County Schools, said the need is only growing. "People are running out of resources. The unemployment runs out. Their savings run out. The family that lent them money does not have it any more, because they're looking at economic hardship."

A reporter's story: Finding homeless families

Davalos organized the homeless family event that brought over 40 agencies to one location, at one time, together with the community. "It's a one-stop shop, so families can learn about exactly what resources are available."

Daphne said, "I let them know that there is hope in this situation being the strength of the family. That's the hardest part. Having to dwell where we are, and still put this glow on the outside - that's the hardest part."

Families at the homeless event made connections to housing, food and clothing assistance. Daphne Ford said Monday that her family is still living in the motel. She's told her children that hard times don't last.

  • Scott Pelley

    Anchor and Managing Editor, "CBS Evening News;" Correspondent, "60 Minutes"

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