More homeless kids now living in cars

Arielle and Austin Metzger
Arielle and Austin Metzger, speaking with Scott Pelley
CBS News

It's shocking to think that in this land of plenty, 17 million American children are living in poverty. That's nearly one in four.

For "60 Minutes" this Sunday, Scott Pelley went to Central Florida, where the homeless shelters have filled up, and a lot of children are living in cars or trucks.

A truck is the home of the Metzger family: Arielle, 15, and her brother Austin, 13. Their mother died when they were very young. Their dad, Tom, is a carpenter who's been looking for work since Florida's construction industry collapsed. When foreclosure took their house, he bought the truck with his last thousand dollars.

Living in their truck for the last five months has been "an adventure," Arielle says.

"Yeah, it's not really that much an embarrassment. I mean, it's only life. You do what you need to do, right?" Arielle asks.

The Metzgers blend in with more than 1,100 homeless students in the Seminole County schools. At Casselberry School, we met fifteen students who'd been living in cars.

"Well, I worried that someone would just break in and steal my mom's purse," said Jade Wiley.

Jade Wiley is eight years old. She spent three weeks living in her car.

"I thought I was going to be stuck in the car," Jade said, adding that "a nice lady named Beth," gave them money to get into a home.

Beth Davalos said she just delivered help provided by the community.

Beth Davalos runs programs for homeless kids in the Seminole schools. She helps find temporary shelter, but it's tough. Of all the homeless families in Florida, two thirds are living on the street.

"People are running out of resources. The unemployment runs out. Their savings run out, and before you know it, they find themselves living in their car because they ran out of all options," Davalos said.

The kids we met, like the Metzgers, clean up in gas stations or YMCAs, keep up appearances by day, and search for safety by night.

"Every time I see like a teenager or any other kid fighting with their parents or arguing with them, and like not doing what they 're told it really hurts me. Because they could be in my shoes. And of course I don't want them to be in my shoes. But they need to learn to appreciate what they have and who they have in their life. Because it may be the last day they might have it," Arielle Metzger said.

Arielle and her brother Austin spend their days in the city library. The say education is their way out. Arielle plans to be a lawyer.

The full story on homeless children will be Sunday night on "60 Minutes."

Beth Davalos' contact information:

Beth Davalos, MSW LCSW

Families in Transition Program

Seminole County Public Schools

Tuskawilla Middle School

1801 Tuskawilla Road

Oviedo, Florida 32765

  • Scott Pelley
    Scott Pelley

    Correspondent, "60 Minutes"