Orlando combats homelessness investing $100,000 to transport people to work

Funding will provide rides for about 100 people a week

ORLANDO, Fla. – The city of Orlando is combatting homelessness by investing more than $100,000 in a transportation and staffing agency that will help people get to work.

Homelessness is a growing problem in Central Florida. At any time, there are around 2,000 people experiencing homelessness in a single night in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, according to the Coalition for the Homeless. That’s why members with First-Step Staffing are getting behind the wheel to help people turn their life around.

“When you’re fighting homelessness and poverty, the most common barrier to success there is transportation,” said Kellie Brownlow, with First-Step Staffing.

Orlando has invested $100,000 in city funding and given an additional $30,000 in grants to the staffing and transport agency.

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Brownlow says with the funds the Atlanta-based staffing agency will be able to expand its capacity and provide rides and employment from about 50 people per week to more than 100 over the next year.

“The difference between our staffing agency and others is ours targets men and women experiencing homelessness, men and women recently incarcerated… transitioning veterans,” Brownlow said.

City Commissioner Regina Hill says the city has been working with First-Step staffing since the end of last year and the staffing agency has a million-dollar contract to get more people involved in the public works department.

According to Hill, The Christian Service Center has also partnered with First-Step and a number of other agencies to provide programs for people to not only get out of homelessness but become stable enough to prosper.

“We’re not just focused on just staffing, but we’re focused on mental health, we’re focused on life skills, we’re focused on this being a one-stop-shop,” Hill said.

The Christian Service Center says they’ve helped 19 families with housing and continue to help even more in other areas like rental assistance and utilities.

The center says going forward, they’re going to be using First-Step Staffing to help provide unemployment or social security disability benefits for another portion of the population in need.

“There are folks who can’t work, usually a physical or mental disability that is keeping them from entering the workforce those are the folks we are seeing on the streets as well,” said Carla Cox, the Director of Programs and Mission for The Christian Service Center.

The city will be hosting a job fair at the Callahan Community Center at the end of next month to further expand its efforts for providing more jobs to people in need.

About the Author:

Brian Didlake joined the News 6 team as a reporter in March 2021.