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Family Promise of Greater Orlando

Posted on May 6, 2015 | Comments Off


What is Family Promise of Greater Orlando?

Family Promise of Greater Orlando (FPGO) is a nonprofit, interfaith hospitality network providing temporary assistance, hospitality, and case management for families with children experiencing homelessness. Family Promise provides these services through the participation of local congregations, dedicated staff, and hundreds of volunteers.

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Collaboration with Foremost Insurance

Posted on May 18, 2015 | Comments Off

We are so grateful this Monday morning for our collaboration with Foremost Insurance Group! We received this email from them:
During the first quarter. Foremost Operations teamed up with the claims department in Orlando to kick off the Partners In Housing initiative with the Family Promise affiliate in that area. Our claims team in Orlando worked with Family Promise to inspect the homes, estimate the purchase price and refurbishment costs. Market Research conducted park surveys to identify parks with the right criteria and homes for sale. Well you gotta love it when a good plan comes together, we purchased the first manufactured home in Orlando and worked with Family Promise to refurbish the home on May 12! The project made the press, which brings visibility to the housing crisis and potential permanent housing solutions that can help end homelessness, one family at a time.

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Tiny homes, mobile homes eyed for homeless

Posted on May 17, 2015 | Comments Off

Must see to appreciate! Cozy two-story cottage with bath, kitchenette, loft, spacious porch and community garden. Walking distance to health care, bus line, library and shops.

Sound appealing? Tim McKinney thinks so. He’s CEO of United Global Outreach, the nonprofit working to improve life for low-income residents in Bithlo. His vision for this tiny home — just 456 square feet — is one of the solutions Central Florida leaders are eyeing to house homeless people at a time when rents for conventional housing have soared.

McKinney’s plan, due to have its first unit built by mid-June, includes 43 tiny homes in a community connected by walking paths to a large main building with a full kitchen and meeting and recreational space. Part of a national tiny-homes movement still in its infancy, the cottages will house chronically homeless people with disabilities as well as families currently living in cars, tents, abandoned campers and dilapidated mobile homes.

“Housing has been one of our biggest challenges, to say the least,” McKinney says. “But we looked at a lot of options and found the perfect housing model for us, and it’s a great replacement for those decades-old trailers. We’re calling it Dignity Village.”

McKinney unveiled the blueprint this week, but he already has purchased the initial $26,000 unit with funding from Florida Hospital. The home can be assembled from a kit using only a wrench and a screwdriver, he says, yet the construction is solid — meeting all the current hurricane standards. The siding and roof have a 40-year warranty.

“And we’ve designed them specifically to be low-maintenance, colorful, stylish and energy-efficient,” McKinney adds. “This isn’t something that’s just ‘better than being homeless.’”

“We’re trying to address this huge need to house homeless people who are already in east Orange County,” he says. “And we want to do it without displacing them, which sometimes happens when agencies try to make improvements.”

Andrae Bailey, CEO of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, says he’s a believer in the project.

“It’s not the total solution to homelessness, but it’s definitely one piece,” he says. “We need creative ideas like this.”

According to federal officials, in March the average two-bedroom apartment in the Greater Orlando area went for $1,028 — a figure that has continued to rise just as the region’s leaders vow to provide permanent housing for hundreds of chronically homeless individuals, some of whom have been on the streets for decades. Even if you can afford the going rate, Bailey says, availability is also limited.

The dilemma has prompted another local nonprofit — the interfaith Family Promise of Greater Orlando — to explore a different option. This weekend, it opens its first refurbished mobile home to a formerly homeless woman and her two children.

“I first heard about this idea when I attended a national conference last fall — the weekend before I started this job,” says Tia Aery, the organization’s executive director. “It was all the buzz.”

For years, Family Promise has used its network of churches to house homeless families — moving them from one congregation to another each week for a year while parents pursue employment and save money. Churchgoers provide the families with meals, hygiene supplies, moral support and sometimes job connections, but Aery admits the program had its drawbacks.

“They have to move every week, and that gets old,” she says. “And too often we find our families are able to gain employment, but they can’t move on to permanent housing because there is nothing in their price range.”

The charity’s new Partners in Housing program will purchase used mobile homes and recruit businesses and volunteers to refurbish them. Participating families pay the monthly lot fee and utilities, but Family Promise covers insurance and some repairs. If the parents prove reliable tenants, at the end of a year, the place is theirs.

“I think my cheeks are worn out from smiling,” says Lisa Reyes, a 30-year-old medical assistant who is the first tenant. A divorced mother of two girls — one 7, the other 15 months — she was giddy at last week’s ceremonial opening. “I am going to have my own place, with my own space to wash my car, my own screened porch where my kids can play, my own laundry room. I have two bedrooms, two baths and even a little garden area outside where I can plant something.”

Reyes, homeless since she fell behind on rent in November, will pay about $500 a month.

How many more mobile homes the agency will be able to offer, though, depends on how much funding it can raise. Based on a similar initiative at the Family Promise of Grand Rapids, Mich., the program will need about $10,000 apiece to purchase the homes.

The Michigan program, now in its sixth year, boasts a 97 percent success rate in keeping families permanently housed.

One shortcoming in Florida, though, is manufactured housing’s vulnerability to hurricanes. Aery says her group will ensure up-to-date tie-down standards and emphasizes that the program is still a work in progress.

The tiny-homes trend, on the other hand, seems to be gaining considerable traction, with projects underway from New York to Texas to Washington state.

“I do see this idea being replicated elsewhere in Central Florida, and I support that, as long as the homes are of the same quality as Dignity Village,” Bailey says. “A lot things that people call tiny homes are little better than glorified doghouses. If you don’t have toilets, sinks, heat and air conditioning, to me that’s not a home.”

Quixote Village, a community of tiny homes in Olympia, Wash., has all those things — plus a closet and sleeping area — in just 115 square feet. Opened in 2013 for chronically homeless individuals, it has 30 tiny homes and a large community building with a big kitchen and showers. It also has a system of mostly self-government, with oversight by a nonprofit.

“It works quite well,” says Timothy Ransom, president of Panza, the nonprofit that oversees and raises money for the village. “We’ve had gazillions of calls, not just from across the nation but from Australia, Europe. … We’re still giving one or two tours every week. It’s obvious that a lot of people are looking for solutions.”

ksantich@tribpub.com or 407-420-5503

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Partners in Housing Press Release

Posted on May 7, 2015 | Comments Off

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Family Promise Launches New Partners in Housing Program

May 7, 2015 – Family Promise of Greater Orlando and Foremost Insurance are launching their new Partners in Housing Program on Tuesday, May 12th.  This program will provide permanent, sustainable housing through the purchase of manufactured homes for homeless families participating in the Family Promise program.

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Homeless plan gets $1 million federal bonus

Posted on Apr 30, 2015 | Comments Off

Orlando Sentinel, by Kate Santich: The federal government has awarded a nearly $1 million bonus to Central Florida’s efforts to house homeless people living on the streets, officials announced Wednesday.

“We’ve had lots of plans to end homelessness,” Andrae Bailey, CEO of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness, told a committee of local leaders. “But we’ve never had a plan with funding. … These men and women have been identified as the most vulnerable among this at-risk population.”

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Home Away From Home

Posted on Apr 24, 2015 | Comments Off

“We realized we had nowhere to go, nowhere to live.  We turned to Family Promise and they changed our lives forever.”  After three months at Family Promise Chester, Shanika and their son Chase are back in a home of their own.

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