Jeff Bezos’ foundation awards Central Florida nonprofit $5.25 million to help homeless families

Homeless Services Network of Central Florida will expand work with Bezos Day One grant

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Homeless Services Network of Central Florida will receive a $5.25 million grant from the Bezos Day One Families Fund to help expand the nonprofit’s work of the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness providing assistance to homeless families in the greater Orlando area.

Officials with the Bezos Day One Families Fund, established by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, announced Thursday that organizations from 23 states will receive immediate donations totaling $98.5 million. All of the chosen organizations provide shelter and/or support for young families in communities across the country, according to a news release.

The Orlando chapter of the nonprofit was the only Florida organization among 32 chosen that received a grant from Bezos’ foundation.

“We are incredibly grateful for this generous investment in our work to ensure all families in our community are connected with the supports and services they need,” HSN CEO Martha Are said. “Central Florida is one of the most challenging areas in the nation for families facing homelessness, and this investment will help the Commission, HSN and our partners continue to change that narrative and make a positive impact for families.”

Are said the organization was asked to apply for the grant a couple of months ago.

“That alone, just being asked to apply, is a real testimony to the awesome work that is going on in our community,” are said.

The grant will help the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness expand its work to identify families in need of shelter and help them obtain permanent housing. The funds will also help the commission expand its diversion programs to keep families with children on the verge of homelessness from going into emergency shelter situations when other options are available, according to a news release.

"It's an incredible opportunity for our community," Are said.

Are adds the Central Florida region is identified as having the worst housing market for extremely low-income households in the country. She said this money will help combat that issue.

“The resources are going to help ensure that families with children who are experiencing homelessness in our communities are going to be able to get into housing that much faster,” Are said.

She adds despite the issues the area is facing with affordable housing options, they are moving the needle on family homelessness and this grant will help with their mission.

“They see we’ve been able to despite a challenging context, we’ve been able to get some good work done and they wanted to support making that happen moving forward,” Are said.

Are said HSN plans to start accepting applications from organizations in January.

Launched in 2018, the Day One Families Fund issues grants to organizations and civic groups “doing compassionate, needle-moving work to provide shelter and hunger support to address the immediate needs of young families,” according to the Bezos Day One Fund website.

The Bezos Day One Fund is advised by experts in family homelessness that help identify grant recipients.

About the Authors: