A mother of 3 became homeless when her husband abandoned her. A local nonproft helped turn her life around

71% of people recently became homeless because they couldn’t make ends meet, regional survey finds

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – More than half of the homeless population in our region recently lost their home, according to a recent survey by Changing Homelessness.

The local nonprofit found that 71% of the people surveyed became homeless because they could not afford to make ends meet.

Downtown Jacksonville is a common area for the homeless to gather, but the people you see living on the street only make up only a small percentage of the unhoused population in our area. Dawn Gilman with Changing Homelessness said a large majority of people who are homeless have jobs and are active members of society.

That’s what happened to Jasmine Jackson, a single mother of three.

She said last July, on her birthday, she and her children were left homeless after her husband abandoned them.

“You never as a wife and a mother would think that, you know, something like this could happen, but it does,” Jackson said.

Jackson moved to Jacksonville from New Jersey. She said she tried to reunite her family and reconcile her marriage with her husband who relocated here.

“I left everything. I left my job. I left what we know,” Jackson said.

She never imagined that she would spend the next chapter of her life living out of a car with her three children. At her wit’s end, with no family around and no place to go, she prayed and prayed.

“I said ‘If you don’t send someone today, I’m not going to make it. I’m not going to make it,” she said.

Right now, there are dozens of people experiencing what Jackson went through.

Dawn Gilman with Changing Homelessness said a majority of those experiencing homelessness are everyday people who just can’t afford rent.

“30 to 50 percent of people experiencing homelessness have a job. So, they are working but they do not make enough money to pay for rent and all the other necessities,” Gilman said.

According to recent data, home prices and rents in Jacksonville have gone up nearly 50% since 2018. But wages haven’t gone up at nearly the same rate.

As this trend continues, there’s a growing concern for people ages 55 and over and families with young children can end up without a place to live.

“They’re unlikely able to get a second job, right, if you already have kids, you have to have someone to watch your kids. If you’re older you may have a disability and may not be able to do that work,” Gilman said.

Anyone can experience homelessness, but there are resources to help.

In Jackson’s case, a clerk at a hotel saw her and her children parked behind the building and connected her with Family Promise, a Jacksonville nonprofit that changed her life.

“Within 60 days I was able to enroll my children into school. I had a place to work. I work remotely for a bank. And also, we were able to find a home that you’re currently sitting in,” Jackson said.

She shares this message with anyone who is currently struggling.

“One day you’re up and then the next day you may be down. But there is hope. Life doesn’t end just because circumstances and life situations happen to you,” Jackson said.

If you are anyone you know is experiencing homelessness you can reach out to these groups:

About the Author:

This native of the Big Apple joined the News4Jax team in July 2021.