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Yes, here in paradise

December 15, 2017
Cape Coral Daily Breeze

As the Lee County Homeless Coalition acknowledges in its "about us" mission statement, homelessness is a complex issue with roots in a myriad of social challenges.

According to the organization's website, , the primary causes are poverty and a lack of affordable housing but it's not that simple. Domestic violence, substance abuse and mental illness are complicating factors here as elsewhere.

There are 2,785 individuals who are homeless in Lee County, the coalition estimates, adding that on any given night, there are approximately 2,300 people without a place to call home."

Individuals who are classified as "chronic homeless" make up just over 18 percent of that number; veterans are 3.25 percent of the tally, and 35.5 percent of those surveyed by the non-profit organization made up of community and faith-based service providers and local businesses, report having a disabling condition.

Statistically, most are single white males but 42 percent are women and the numbers do include families with children.

The good news is that Lee County does have resources for those in need and the coalition is extremely proactive in making sure those resources are updated on its website. Listings includes information on everything from shelters and emergency housing to sites where free meals, food pantries and even places to do laundry or take a shower are noted as well as packaged in a printable "survival guide."

The bad news is this week, with the cold, some of the "best" places for emergency shelter, such as the Salvation Army shelter for single women and women with children, were full with wait lists.

And worse, living on the street can be - no surprise - hazardous.

At least 22 homeless individuals lost their lives while living on the streets or in shelters in Lee County this year, according to the Lee County Homeless Coalition, which will host its 21st annual Candlelight Vigil at 6 p.m. next Thursday, Dec. 21. The community is invited to gather on the steps of the Old Lee County Courthouse at 2120 Main Street in Fort Myers "to mourn those who have passed."

"The memorial event is also intended to educate and inspire the public to support the community's need for more affordable housing, shelters, living wages and accessible health care," the release states.

Attending the remembrance is one way to mark this loss of life.

Making a donation to the cause is a way to, perhaps, save one.

Cash, checks and donations via credit card as well as event sponsorships, stock, planned gifts and in-kind goods and services donations may be made at

We thank those working to address this community issue. And we urge those who can to become involved, even if it's just a small addition to the holiday giving list.

Homelessness is the serpent in the sand here in paradise. And its bite affects us all.

-Breeze editorial



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