homeless storm shelter downtown deland hurricane ian
HURRICANE SHELTER — Clad in his private homemade shelter, this individual sleeps on Indiana Avenue in Downtown DeLand the afternoon of Sept. 29, as Hurricane Ian made its exit from Volusia County. It is unknown whether he endured the hurricane here. The Beacon spoke with another homeless person who lives in Downtown DeLand, who told us he had walked an hour in the rain on Sept. 28 to reach the emergency shelter at DeLand High School, only to be denied entrance because he didn’t have identification. BEACON PHOTO/BARB SHEPHERD

Editor, The Beacon:

On Holy Thursday, as I was driving on State Road 15A with my young grandkids, we came upon a scene at an area of woods near Plymouth Avenue where there were multiple police cars, bulldozers and other equipment.

Apparently, there were a good many people living in the woods there. They and all their belongings were being removed and put on the sidewalk. I don’t know how many people lived there, but I saw some children.

Of course someone owns that property and has the right to do with it as they please, and the people there were trespassing. I have seen women and school-age children sitting on the nearby sidewalk on several occasions. It seems to me that we as a society are failing when we can do nothing to help homeless families. On this day, what made someone clear out that property? Where is our compassion?

I realize, too, that if people read this they will feel the folks there should “get a job” or simply disappear. And say that I’m a bleeding heart. But, I ask you if you have heard the exhortation, “Whatsoever you do to the least of my people, that you do unto me.”

Mary D. Fischetti



  1. We should do what we can as individuals to help our fellow citizens as we are able to help on our own and through organizations we may choose to join, however, we should never ask or encourage our government(s) to take more from our neighbors in order to give to others. Higher taxes harm the working poor the most by making their ability to own and maintain a home or rent an apartment even more financially difficult. So often people say “Why are THEY not doing more” instead of looking within and realizing they too are can help without imposing their will on others. We must also consider the rights of everyone involved when dealing with these issues. The property owners have rights and we as individuals should not have our rights trampled as we go about our day traveling about, shopping, and enjoying public spaces. We must also never forget, build it and they will come. Are most of the individuals we see living on the streets and in the woods in Volusia County from here or are we being burdened more with new comers and how much more are we willing to deal with? Charity should always start within your own home. I should note, we have four shelters in Volusia County that have been heavily funded with tax dollars. There is Hope Place for Families, HUM has a shelter for Vets, there is the First Step Shelter, and The Bridge and those are on top of many others tax funded housing programs. At some point we must also consider the impacts we are causing to other struggling families through higher taxation.


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