The Other Side of Sunshine

Robin Martin
Good News

Side-of-SunshineWhen was the last time you met a South Florida native? Think about it. Every day I meet people from all across our community and rarely do I find someone who was born and raised here in the tri-county area.
To call South Florida a transient population is an understatement, as the growth of the region has primarily been on account of migration and tourism. With the airport, seaport, and railway, Florida is easily accessible for those who want to take in the wonderful weather and the beautiful cities.

Founded as a magnet for those seeking fun in the sun, South Florida continues to remain one of the hot spots for travel and tourism in the United States. Tourism plays a major role in our local economy and, as such, inherently creates an economy dependent on retail, services, hospitality and construction. The reliance on the revenue and jobs generated through the tourism industry increases both the vulnerability to and the adverse effects of economic fluctuations and changes.

Sunny South Florida also creates an ideal that continues to drive individuals and families to relocate to our area that, on the surface, seems to show such great potential for both vocation and recreation. People come here to live the American dream.

Unfortunately, the other side of that sunshine is the large number of people who struggle to maintain any true sense of community and job security. When the one thing most residents share in common is that they are recently from somewhere else, and also happen to live very close to people who are also from somewhere else, our society becomes disjointed and characterized by isolation and social anxiety.

These factors, combined with various other social ills, create a ripe environment for increased homelessness and poverty. Income in the service industry cannot keep up with the rising housing costs, and families headed by single mothers are particularly vulnerable.

As a result, we continue to have a waiting list of over 150 families in Broward County that are on the brink of homelessness and desperately reaching out for services. Every day there are over 4,000 men, women and children in our community who are homeless, with one in four being children.

Thankfully, this is not the end of the story. Proverbs 11:11 reminds us that “through the blessings of the upright, a city is exalted.” Every day, thousands of Christians across all denominations are working together to bring hope and change to the lost and hopeless around us. Putting their time, talents and resources into action, the “upright” of our community are making a difference as they partner alongside their churches and community organizations to address the loneliness that a life of poverty and homelessness brings. Not only is the church working together to provide hope and housing, we are working together to provide restorative community. There is hope, but there is still much to do.

Robin is the Executive Director of HOPE South Florida. Robin has over fifteen years of experience providing services to the homeless in Broward County. Email Robin at [email protected].

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