When was the last time you felt as though for every two steps forward, you had to take three steps back?
Even the most successful individuals have experienced periods in life where the obvious next steps don’t always pan out the way they hoped they would. Tina Figliuolo, CEO of the Charlotte County Homeless Coalition, has seen her share of individuals and families trying to attain that next step in exiting homelessness and returning to permanent housing, only to have to take three steps back again.
Tina explained that these vulnerable individuals have three core steps to take to be housed through a rapid re-housing plan. These steps include:
• Housing identification
• Rent and move-in assistance
• Case management
State and federal funds support our local rapid re-housing efforts for the chronically homeless. Recently, however, there was a gap in funding that caused many of these homeless individuals to falter.
Tina explained, “Rapid re-housing aims to help stabilize people once they are housed by connecting them to services and supports in the community. Without this support, the threat of returning to homelessness is a possibility.”
United Way of Charlotte County’s Season of Sharing program was recently able to help support this second step in the rapid re-housing. Season of Sharing (SOS) provides rent, mortgage and utility assistance to prevent families from falling into homelessness. During this critical time where the Homeless Coalition was experiencing a gap in funding, SOS was able to bridge the gap.
“Thanks to assistance from United Way of Charlotte County and Season of Sharing funds, a grant received from the Community Foundation of Sarasota County, 23 households remained stably housed,” reports Tina. This amounted to 30 individuals who were able to get past Step Two, receiving relevant services and case management through the Homeless Coalition that ensure their continued success.
SOS recipient and Rapid Rehousing client “Sally” relocated to Charlotte County from out of state. A single mom with a preschooler, Sally wanted to provide a safer community than the one she was leaving. Sally managed to have her professional license transferred from the previous state to Florida. She worked full time in retail until she was able to save money for all the fees required. Now working in the area and building a clientele base, Sally’s son is enrolled in preschool and doing well. Sally is diligent with her budgeting and is much more responsible than many folks twice her age. As a wonderful role model for other single moms, Sally works to continue growing her business to maximize her income.
Looking back over the past year, our SOS program in Charlotte County helped 800 households. That means from April 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021, we provided more than $571,000 in rent, mortgage, utility, childcare, and transportation assistance to 2,196 people.
Most of the assistance ($403,187) went toward rent and mortgage payments. But anyone who has ever lived paycheck to paycheck knows that help with a utility or childcare bill can make all the difference some months. SOS was created to make that difference.
Since 2001, United Way of Charlotte County has been the single fiscal agent in Charlotte County to administer these funds, using a grant provided by the Community Foundation of Sarasota County. Your support of Season of Sharing helps families who may have recently taken two steps forward only to be forced to take three steps back.
Donations to the Season of Sharing fund may be made online at www.cfsarasota.org/season-of-sharing. Contact the Community Foundation of Sarasota County at 941-955-3000 with additional questions.