Housing the Displaced

Housing the Displaced

From Sharlene Cathy Gillespie

All of my life, I have been a person who loves to help others. This is to help house independent individuals who are sleeping in their cars, on someone's couch, motel, bus station or at a shelter.

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My husband and I have a passion to help others as it relates to housing. We are trying to open an independent living facility in Central Florida where we can house displace individuals. There is a huge need, and we are trying to raise money to do so.

We started “Way of Life Living Solutions, LLC” in February of this year. At the moment, we are a housing referral agency. We connect displaced individuals with a home, primarily an independent living facility. Independent Living Facilities are homes that are for individuals who are self-sufficient. They can do their own laundry, cook their meals, go to work/school, transport themselves and take their medication. All we do is house them. We try to house people with mental illness in a separate home, just like we house women in a home for women, seniors in a home that has other seniors and so forth.

Today, because of the many calls and emails we have received, the need for a home for women and veterans is very high.

These individuals come from all walks of life. They can be a young 20-year-old that was kicked out of their parents' home but works. Unfortunately, their job may not afford them to rent a one-bedroom apartment, so they go for the studio apartments which is just as high. They fail to realize that there’s more to pay than just the rent. They have to pay for the electricity, cable/internet and they have to consider doing their laundry either at a laundromat or onsite. Either way, they learn quickly that there are other monthly expenses. The same goes for an older individual who has a great full-time job but cannot get approved for an apartment because of their credit score or criminal background check or does not make three times the rent to be qualified. Some individuals can’t obtain traditional housing because they have an eviction reported on their credit report. You might say, they can ask a friend or relative to co-sign but how many people do you know will jump to help someone by adding themselves to another individual’s debt?

The goal is to at least open the first home for women and from there, we can save funds from that house with our income to open one for veterans, another one for seniors and so on.

The purpose of the home is to house individuals with income so they can rent a bed in a room with a roommate. There are two adults in a room with ample space, but they share the whole house. The house has AC, electricity, cable, internet, washer & dryer, shared bathrooms, shared living room, shared kitchen, security cameras and a food pantry. This is considered transitional housing until they are able to fix the roadblocks in their lives and relocate on their own.

Key points in all of this are that we do not conduct criminal background checks or credit checks. Everyone is approved once they have been assessed by us and have income. If someone is not a good fit after they have been at our home, we will normally recommend them to another home, we will never kick them out unless a crime was committed.

The fees charged for a shared room could be anywhere between $550 - $650.00 depending on the particular home and the amenities. There is an option to have their own room and that fee could be $800 - $950.00. Remember, everything is included except food.

Both my husband and I have experienced being homeless at different times in our lives, way before we ever met. We have now been married for 15 years. Our legacy is to continue to serve our community and allow our children to join us in doing so.

We just need a little assistance to obtain the home (first, last & security) and furnishings.

Thank you,

Marvin & Sharlene Gillespie

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