Sunday, November 20, 2005

Homeless: Houseboats Destroyed

An era is ending for former houseboat residents in Southern Florida.

That's because the high winds of Hurricane Wilma destroyed many houseboats, the floating homes for a number of area residents.

Here is the tale of John DeBlase, a (former) houseboat dweller, who was recently featured in an excellent above-the-fold A1 (Front Page) article by Miami Herald reporter Amy Driscoll.

Here's my quick summary of her article:

For 30+ years, John DeBlase (age 79) lived in a waterbound village in South Florida. That has changed due to Hurricane Wilma: Standing on the edge of the water, DeBlase recently identified his submerged home.

Only the roof (brown shingles) of Xanadu (a 24-foot by 50-foot houseboat) is visible. The rest of the dwelling and his possessions are underwater. As a homeowner, DeBlase was uninsured.

"Oh well," said DeBlase told the Herald. "It's the end of a chapter in my life."

He uses a cane, relies on assistance from friends and is hoping to receive financial assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). DeBlase is now homeless and even his car was "trashed" by Wilma.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

One Reader's View of the Homeless

After my recent post on a homeless family in Broward County, a reader named Virginia from Miami Beach sent me this email and granted me permission to publish her comments

Virginia's View:

Even without the natural disasters there are many, too many people in need of a roof, to say the least.

Our factory is located near The Camilus House, [a homeless shelter in Miami] so we see them (and have for years), laying on the sidewalk, sleeping on carboards.

Sometimes it seems as if they are casualties of war.

My husband has tried for years to help, with very few, but some, success stories. For example, "Freddie" was a homeless men in his 30s when he started to help us: cutting the trees or doing some chores, and through the years he become a great part of our team.

By the time Freddie passed away (AIDS), he had a home, a job and self respect.

Best regards,

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Helping the Homeless

There are many local and regional organizations that are helping the homeless and struggling families.

Here are a few that I discovered in my recent round of reporting:

The Douglas Gardens Thrift Store in Miami is selling quality merchandise at steep discounts. What’s more, in its warehouse, the company is also selling clothing for 50 cents a garment. And through FEMA, the store is providing merchandise to hard-pressed families, according to Hecdor Nunez, assistant manager.

Likewise Grubstake, a second-hand store, has donated most of its inventory to struggling families from Louisiana and Florida, who have been left homeless by either Hurricane Katrina or Wilma. For example, during a recent two-day period, Grubstake provided furniture and other household materials to five families, according to Heather Klinker, founder and head volunteer.

“What I need are donors,” Klinker said. “Rule of Thumb: Would you give it to your best friend. That’s what we want.”

If you have items that are suitable for donation: Please contact Grubstake at 305-573-2976. They will pick up your merchandise.


Their tagline: "Share your abundance at our operation center."

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Tracking the Homeless

Many people have been left homeless due to the recent spate of storms. The ranks of the homeless have grown in Florida, Louisiana and other regions that have been hard hit by hurricanes. Other resident are holding on to thin threads of tattered budgets.

Here's the story of one family, featured on the cover of Today's Miami Herald, written by Darran Simon

My Summary:

Joe and Susan Sency had very little before Wilma, (the Hurricane) struck. In the aftermath, the family now has much less. Before the storm, the family had hoped to move from a mobile home in South Florida to a house in Texas. No luck. Their mobile home was crushed by Hurricane Wilma and the family is struggling under a mountain of storm-related problems

The family includes three young girls. They live in motel and are running out of money. The husband often sleeps in his green minivan in order to guard their crushed home/possessions from vandals. The couple is waiting for assistance from FEMA.

"There are people here who are hopeless," said Susan Sency.

Google them or go to the Herald website to check out the full story.

On a regular basis, I will focus on different families and organizations related to the storms, poverty and homelessness. I will pull my stories from various sources. I am a freelancer for the Miami Herald and People magazine. I write a blog called The Frugal Duchess:.

I will tap into different networks in order to highlight the homeless and the impoverished.