VERO BEACH, Fla. — Vero Beach is a beautiful coastal city with beachfront mansions.
During one of WPTV's recent meet-ups with viewers in Indian River County, residents wanted to talk about the undercurrent of instability they said has only gotten worse because of the affordable housing crisis.
Not even the picture-perfect bridges and beaches in Vero Beach can close the gap between the hardship.
Like many communities in Florida, the working class is struggling to make ends meet.
It's places like a residential shelter in Vero Beach called "Hope for Families" that's taking in people who've fallen on hard times.
"We're running out of room fast," Hope for Families executive director Marty Mercado said. "There is a new pandemic, which is lack of affordable housing for working homeless, and the need is great."
Hope for Families not only provides housing, but schooling options for adults, financial literacy courses and child care.
It has been a saving grace for people like Trisha Devercelly — a single mother with two sons.
"I was on the street, living in a tent for eight months with my wife," Devercelly said.
She is hoping to become a success story like Shequita Jordan, who once lived at the shelter.
Jordan now works at the center, helping others climb out of a desperate situation.
"On the other side of homelessness, I just kind of want to reach back and share my story and tell people, 'Hey you may want to go to Hope for Families Center because they like really help,'" Jordan said.
Starting this month, the shelter will lay the framework for an expansion, doubling the number of rooms to 42 and adding more transitional housing.
"[We] watch families walk in here [with their] head down, tired, hungry," Mercado said.
They know the need isn't going away.
The center is going to be doing some major fundraising to add to its Vero Beach location.
However, Mercado said they have a lot of generous donors within the community that help keep the doors open.