Homeless living in camps around Panama City

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Surviving in the woods can be a difficult feat for most, but for some people who feel like they have no other option, it's become the norm.

When night falls it's natural for you to head home to a place where you feel safe, but some in Panama City aren't afforded that sense of security.

Our cameras trekked into a wooded area of Panama City not far from stores and restaurants.

There we found some of the city's homeless who had formed a camp.

"In my tent? I just basically have my little four-man tent, which is a good size. I got my little stove with a little ice chest and I have a couple gallons of water and my blankets," Mickey McFayden said.

McFayden lives in one of the camps. There he sleeps among wild animals and is exposed to the elements.

He's lived there for about two months.

"That would have to be the toughest part because it gets extremely hot and extremely cold," McFayden explained.

He asked us not to shoot video of the actual camp or reveal it's location, but we're told there are other camps all around the city.

"I have to sneak behind houses, use their water hose to shower," McFayden said. "I have to jump in the bay or get a room once a week."

Other rooms like at the Panama City Rescue Mission come with stipulations and there isn't room for everyone.

"Really we have no resources here," McFayden said.

City leaders like Jenna Haligas say there are resources, but the downside is they aren't centrally located.

She believes it would be more beneficial if they were.

"They have found in other cities that it does help promote getting back on your feet and truly beating homelessness," Haligas said.

In addition to having a one-stop shop, Haligas says they would also have to address work wages if they want to truly address homelessness.

"We did research on this board that said a single mother of three children would have to work 80 hours a week to afford market rate living in Panama City," Haligas said.

She also serves on the Continuum of Care board with Doorways of Northwest Florida.

"Now once they're in the street it is very difficult to get themselves out of that situation because it becomes their comfort zone," Yvonne Petrasovits, Executive Director of Doorways of Northwest Florida said.

Last year, the organization helped house 200 people, but a recent survey of homeless people showed that hundreds are still without a place to live.

"The average homeless person is a regular rapid rehousing, is what we call it," Petrasovits said, "and that would be someone that we would work with, case manage, provide deposits, provide the first month's rent, last month's rent and help them along the way with budgeting, understanding what they can afford."

It's about making sure people understand that having a roof over their head is a priority.

For McFayden, his concerns consist of daily struggles like when his next meal will be.

"Honestly, I think they need to come up with a better shelter program and they should have some place where we can go shower anytime we need to shower instead of having to be involved in a program they should feed us three times a day," McFayden said.

Until then he and others will find their way as it may be another night of no home for the homeless.