New Hernando homeless effort helping hundreds

Posted at 5:04 PM, Dec 24, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-24 17:04:07-05

People who are on the brink of losing their homes or are already out on the streets are getting some much needed help in Hernando County.

Plans are in the works right now for a new community center in Spring Hill's Kass Circle, which will help people find meals, jobs and more.

One of those helped will be Paul, who lives behind a dumpster near Spring Hill Plaza. 

"Inside the tent right there, I live off the floor," Paul said, showing ABC Action News the place where he's set up a camp.

He doesn't have much of anything and has been here for the last year and a half. He's been out of work and out of hope.

"It's very simple, the things in life you lose that you take for granted," he said. "You realize it's very important to have."

He's come to depend on People Helping People, the non-profit behind a new homeless initiative in Hernando County.

"One of the things we want to do is be able to give them a hand up," said Doug Brainard, founder of People Helping People.

Brainard and volunteers helped raise enough money to purchase an old hardware store along Kass Circle that will one day serve as a community center to help people like Paul.

One room will be transformed into a dining area. There will also be a place for bathrooms and showers. In another room will be a jobs center with computers.

"If we can do something to avoid the negative aspects of being poor, then we all win," he said.

And that's not all -- Through county grant money, they've also started a community garden full of fresh vegetables and herbs. Volunteers help harvest and provide vegetables free of charge to the homeless and hungry each week.

Brainard said the hope is that one day they will learn how to grow this food themselves.

For now, Paul spends most of his time feeling overlooked by many.

When asked if he was lonely, Paul had no doubts.

"Yes," he said. "I have that feeling, sure."

But he's come to count on help and support he gets each week, and he hopes one day he'll be in a real home.

People Helping People is looking for more volunteers with gardening experience to help with their community garden. They are also looking for more private donations and community partners to help refurbish and construct their community center.

Learn how to help here.