Report on public perceptions of the homeless in Central Florida

Just this week, researchers from the University of Central Florida’s (UCF) Institute for Social and Behavioral Sciences released a study that gauged the region’s ideas about the local homeless population. Titled “Public Perceptions of the Homeless and the Agencies that Serve Them,” this study provides invaluable insight into how our community views the issue of homelessness in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties.

We decided to share the conclusions in the words of the researchers themselves, as well as point out some particularly interesting discoveries.

Some points we found particularly intriguing:

• Most respondents (55%) described homelessness as a “major problem” in Central Florida.
• Public perceptions of the homeless are generally positive.
• About one in three (35%) says that their opinion of homeless people changed in the past year.  Of those whose opinions have changed, 95% say they have become more sympathetic.
• One survey question asked if respondents felt enough is being done to address the issue of homelessness in Central Florida. A substantial majority (73%) said no.
• The study also questioned whether Central Florida’s municipal and county governments should do more to fund programs that address homelessness. The resounding majority of respondents (83%) said yes.

We are rarely able to share results from a study that is strictly local and because of this the UCF study is priceless to us. Based on the results of this study, we gather that the Central Florida community is changing its perceptions of the homeless population and that they are beginning to consider ways this issue can be addressed. Our goal is to continue offering the community proof that the face of homelessness has changed and to remind them of how they can get involved in addressing this increasingly imperative issue. Visit our website to find out more.

Stay tuned for more results from this study: we will be sharing the statistics on the community’s perceptions of the Coalition sometime very soon.