At the GOC, we did our part in the Point in Time homeless count. This happens once per year when agencies like United Way of North Central Florida, Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, Inc., GRACE Marketplace and others go out to count those who have no housing. On Main Street in Gainesville, we ran across a man living in a tent on the sidewalk. He shared with us that, since he has no address, he has no bank account and cannot receive his Social Security Disability. He also said he was desperately in need of medication for his physical and mental conditions.

You can see the gentleman’s hand. He has been out here every night, including the recent hard freeze conditions. Although Cold Shelters opened for the recent freeze, many people are scared to leave their stuff. This is all they have. Some people lack the ability to care for themselves. With stable housing, medical care and programs like the GOC, there is hope. People living with mental illness can and do lead meaningful lives. We do need to help them first.