DCF Press Release

State of Florida
Department of Children and Families
Charlie Crist

George H. Sheldon

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Media Contact: Sarrah Troncoso
September 22, 2008 850-488-4855

Florida's Communities Receive $6.9 Million to Aid Homeless

TALLAHASSEE, FLA.- Children and Families Secretary Bob Butterworth applauded Governor Charlie Crist and Lt. Governor Jeff Kottkamp today for their continued support for Florida’s vulnerable children and families through their 2008-09 budget recommendations. The Governor’s recommendations focus on the continued provision of vital services to Floridians during this tough economic time.

Department of Children and Families interim Secretary George Sheldon announced the award of more than $6.9 million today to communities throughout the state striving to provide homeless assistance to families and individuals in their area. The grants, awarded annually, will provide services to more than 23,000 homeless in Florida, including families with children, youth aging out of foster care, persons with mental illness or substance abuse issues, victims of domestic violence and veterans. Statewide, it is estimated there are more than 60,000 homeless in Florida including approximately 20,000 children.

"Florida's homeless coalitions, food banks and community partners are doing an incredible job serving the growing number of individuals and families facing financial strain and homelessness," said Sheldon. "Together, these organizations are the backbone of Florida's communities and this funding will further strengthen their services and their efforts to keep families off the streets."

The $6.9 million in grant dollars were awarded through two separate grant programs - the Challenge Grant and the Homeless Housing Assistance Grant - both administered through the Department of Children and Families. A total of 22 Challenge Grants were awarded this year serving 44 counties with a total of $2,031,384 being distributed to Florida communities. Challenge Grant recipients will use their dollars for a variety of services including emergency financial aid and rental assistance for families on the verge of being evicted. Grant dollars can also pay for supported employment, shelter operating expenses as well as food, clothing and transportation for members of the homeless community who lack basic necessities.

Homeless Housing Assistance Grant recipients will dedicate their funds to the creation, renovation and maintenance of affordable housing options for the homeless. Nine Homeless Housing Assistance Grant recipients will create a total of 241 new housing units across the state using the $4.8 million provided by the Department. These dollars will join with $8.5 million in other private and public financing to help stimulate local economies through construction. The housing units will provide a free or low-cost housing option for underserved homeless populations including veterans and individuals with severe and persistent mental illness or substance addiction.

The Department awards the grants to organizations that demonstrate their ability to provide quality services in their area with a track record of success in receiving grant funding and private cash for services.

In recent years, homeless grant dollars awarded through the Department's Office on Homelessness have helped Florida expand homeless services to 63 counties, covering more than 95 percent of the state's population. For more information on the Florida Department of Children and Families Office on Homelessness visit http://www.dcf.state.fl.us/homelessness/.


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