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Intersection: After Seven Years On The Streets, A Welcome Home

Andrew Williams and Shelley Lauten. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE
Andrew Williams and Shelley Lauten. Photo: Matthew Peddie, WMFE

Back in November, the Central Florida Commission on homelessness began a push to get 129 people in permanent housing.

The money and resources to place these people in homes is there, but the challenge has been finding accomodation in a tight housing market.

Commission CEO Shelley Lauten says the Welcome Home project is now halfway to its goal.

"We're in a very tough housing market," says Lauten.

"We would find and identify people like Andrew [Williams], identify a case manager to work with them, but there were no homes."

The Welcome Home project launched on November 21st.

"We said, why don't we go to the community, and say, this is the piece that we're missing that really could move someone into a home. We need one bedroom or studio apartments," says Lauten.

Andrew Williams recently moved into his own home through the Welcome Home project after spending seven years on the streets, living in the woods and under bridges.

Williams tells Intersection he's back in contact with his family since he was housed.

"When I was homeless, I wasn't able to do anything," says Williams.

"But now I talk to my son, my daughters, my granddaughters and grandsons. I even hung out with my great-grandchildren," he says.

"We even ate butter pecan icecream together! Who would ever have thought they would actually allow me back in their lives after so many years of being absent."