Friday, March 20, 2009

$65M will help keep roofs over Floridians' heads:

Florida is about to get $65 million for homeless-prevention programs — money that advocates say is desperately needed to help keep the recently unemployed from winding up in shelters.

The federal government is expected to announce today the guidelines on how the funding will be used. Orange County will receive more than $2.5 million, and the city of Orlando will get about $921,000.

"In the past, the hardest dollar to find has been emergency-assistance money to get somebody over a crisis," said Tom Pierce, executive director of the state's Office on Homelessness, part of the Florida Department of Children and Families. "There's a potential in here to provide rent assistance for several months to a family that needs it, particularly if they've lost a job."

It's a strategy that advocates for the homeless have urged for years: Instead of waiting until a family has lost everything and is out on the streets, why not spend money earlier to keep things from reaching that point?

The funds, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act signed by President Barack Obama in February, will be for renters who are behind on rent or utility payments and those recently evicted. Homeowners facing foreclosure will be helped under other programs.

During the 2007-08 fiscal year, nearly 170,000 Florida households were evicted by court order. Pierce said many were the result of a bank foreclosing on a property and then evicting the people living there — even if they had been paying rent all along.

"If it's a landlord-owned property ... most often the tenant only finds out about the foreclosure when the sheriff's office shows up to escort the family from the premises," Pierce said. "Those are the horror stories we're hearing."

The prevention funds could help such families cover the first and last months' rent and a deposit on another house or apartment. It likely will be another month before the funds are available, Pierce said.

Kate Santich

Orlando Sentinel Staff Writer

published March 19, 2009

I had to share something. I would love to see something like this in SRQ and Manatee Counties.

This is a wonderful concept. I hope you read it. It would be wonderful to see something like this in Bradenton.

It is the intent of SAME Cafe to build a healthy community by providing a basic need of food in a respectful and dignified manner to anyone who walks through the door.

SAME Cafe is unique in the lack of a set menu as well as set prices. Daily selections are made using fresh, organic ingredients, and funded by the donations of patrons. Instead of a cash register, a donation box is available for one to pay what they felt their meal was worth, or to leave a little more and help out someone less fortunate. If a diner does not have sufficient money to leave, they are encouraged to exchange an hour of service. Our philosophy is that everyone, regardless of economic status, deserves the chance to eat healthy food while being treated with dignity.
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