Families struggling to stay off the streets

Posted at 10:53 PM, Dec 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-17 23:34:46-05

Hoping for a permanent place to call home, that's when several families are wishing for this Christmas. When 11-year-old twins Javarious and Tavarious Jones went missing for hours Wednesday night from the Aqua Motel on Dixie Highway, they were scared, running from the Department of Children and Families.

Their mother says she had to call DCF because she had no place to go. The last 24 hours have been a nightmare for Jacqueline West.

"I just had to make the hardest decision of my life, to let someone get my kids," said West who is a single mother.

West says the organization Adopt-a-Family was paying for her family's motel stay up until last night.

"They said they just couldn't help us anymore," said West.

With no way to provide a roof for her kids and no way to give them a hot meal, West called DCF.

"The hardest thing is when you kids as you that, like what's next? and you have no answer," added West.

The kids were found safe and are in DCF custody till West can find a more stable home. Her family is not the only one that's living day -to-day.

"It's unlivable, it's miserable. It's very stressful," said Kelli Lowe.

Lowe, her husband, and her kids lost their home last month. They are getting help from Adopt-A-Family for the second time this year.

"You cannot focus. You don't know where to begin to focus. You don't know what to do because you don't know where you're going to next week," said Lowe.

Both women were allowed to stay at the Pat Reeves Shelter for three months. They hoped there would be a vacancy in a more permanent housing program.

"When I went to Pat Reeves I was unstable and I was unemployed. When I left I was still unemployed and unstable," said Lowe.

The CEO for Adopt-A-Family says the need for affordable housing is greater than the supply.

Matthew Constantine released a statement saying, "The issue of family homelessness is a complex national problem, but is especially pronounced in Palm Beach County. Nationally, the number of renters paying more than 50 percent of their income on housing costs increased to 11.4 million—a record high. Housing costs in Palm Beach County are the 3rd highest in the state of Florida. A household earning minimum wage would have to work nearly three full-time jobs to afford a two bedroom apartment in Palm Beach County. Unfortunately, the supply of affordable housing for families experiencing homelessness is dwarfed by the need in our community. And, while every situation is unique, we work tirelessly to meet the needs of families in our community who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness."

Both West and Lowe have children who suffer from bi-polar disorder. They say they have lost jobs because of the attention their children require.

Lowe says her husband is working now but is getting paid minimum wage, because she has faced previous evictions, it has been difficult for them to find a decent home.

The goal for these families is to find a spot within The Lord's Place program which would get them their own apartment. There is a waiting list for the referral program which would give them longer term housing that would allow the families more time to get back on their feet.

In the meantime, the parents say they are suffering watching their children spend the holidays bouncing from place to place.

"Miserable, absolutely miserable. They don't deserve this. I had a terrible childhood myself, they deserve better," said Lowe.

Thanks to the owner of the Aqua Motel, West has been given another week of stay.

Lowe says Adopt-A-Family has notified her she has until December 28.

The organization will not comment on specific family situations due to confidentiality.