WEST PALM BEACH, Fla.-- Miley Cyrus is being applauded for a move she made at the VMA show Sunday night. Cyrus sent a young man who said he was homeless to the stage to accept her award.
Dr. Ted Greer, Jr., the CEO for The Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County says he applauds the move, despite of the negative attention Cyrus has recently received.
"It was inspiring. I give Miley Cyrus kudos. That was a very courageous move. It was a very smart move to bring something to the forefront," he said.
Greer and his team run Pat Reeves Village. It's the county's only emergency shelter for families with children who are facing homelessness. A family lives in each of the 19 one- to three-bedroom apartments and they can stay up to 90 days. The purpose is to keep families together as they get back on their feet, in an effort to break the cycle of poverty.
Christina Hicks lives in one of the units with 6 of her 7 kids, aged 4 months to 10 years. They moved in a couple of weeks ago. They had moved many times before, as the children struggled to find stability in their home lives and at school.
"I been going through this for, like, three years. From house to house, to my mother's to my grandmother's, to wherever, and then just to the point that we were on the streets and I got to the point that I got tired," Hicks said.
The family says it's been a relief to be together in their own space. Hicks says it feels like 'home' for the first time in a long time.
"We have that, our freedom, and I'm glad we're here with our family," explained 7-year-old Jaraiah.
In 2013, Palm Beach County School District reported more than 3,000 children were homeless while attending school.
Greer says the parents are often unemployed or underemployed, but no two situations are the same.
"People associate homelessness with drug abuse, alcoholics or violent individuals, and often time it's quite the opposite. They are people like you and me who had some unfortunate experiences," he said.
Greer points out, while many people will make assumptions about who can fall victim to homelessness, the issue does not discriminate.
"It's all around us. In the school system, in our neighborhoods, in our place of work. Parking lots around the county," Greer said.
Hicks says since moving in, she's found a job and the kids are doing better in school.
"I guess people don't know how it is to be homeless because once upon a time I didn't know how it would feel. Until I actually got there," Hicks said.
Christina says in short time she's lived in Pat Reeves Village with her children she has found a job and the children are doing well in school. Her next goal is to find a permanent home and stable situation so the family can move out.
For more information about the Center for Family Services of Palm Beach County, visit www.ctrfam.org or call 561-616-1222.