Opening Doors NWFL awarded 3.5 Million in CARES funding to aid homelessness

Opening Doors Northwest Florida, Inc-the Continuum of Care (CoC) Lead Agency, has received the green light to administer the Emergency Solutions Grant (ESG) Coronavirus Aid Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act award provided by the State of Florida, Department of Children and Families, Office on Homelessness, in the amount of $3,500,652.00. The State Office on Homelessness released their notice to fund all 27 CoCs in May of this year. This notice included specific instructions on how the dollars may be used to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the Coronavirus.

Opening Doors, the Selection Committee, and several non-profit agencies, formed a coordinated plan to respond to this opportunity. The plan will stand up critical services, spend down precious resources over the next 12 months, and bring relief to hurting families and individuals that have been negatively impacted by the Coronavirus.

Using a scoring application, community agencies were chosen based on capacity, need, past collaboration, and experience. The CARES Act provides funding in 5 areas.

1)            Street Outreach (engage, support, and refer the homeless living on the streets to housing, mental health,                  health care, and other immediate services to minimize the trauma of living on the streets)
2)            Emergency Shelter (will be used to temporarily shelter homeless men, women, and families)
3)            Homeless Prevention (prevent evictions by paying arrearages so that individuals and families reman housed)
4)            Rapid Rehousing (will be used to provide 1st month’s rent/deposit/utilities/arrearages)
5)            Homeless Management Information System (HMIS) (will be used to collect information and report outcomes)

The impact of COVID-19 has significantly impaired the delivery of human services across our nation. Relief provisions, such as eviction moratoriums, will sunset at the end of July 2021. This will leave many families and individuals without the funding needed to prevent evictions or re-establish housing. Hardships such as job loss, wage reduction, death of a primary wage-earner, like the husband we served the other day that lost his wife of 36 years, or illness due to COVID-19 has prevented recovery. The undeniable benefit of these dollars is that together, we will be able to rapidly rehouse and provide financial assistance to those that qualify, support emergency shelter operations, and expand Street Outreach services.

The CARES funding will enable our sub awardees to respond to the devastating impact of COVID-19. The resources will energize critical initiatives that will help prevent and combat homelessness in Escambia and Santa Rosa Counties.

The launch is planned for July 6th, 2021. The end date of the grant is June 30, 2022, for HMIS, Street Outreach, Rapid Rehousing, and Homeless Prevention. Temporary Emergency Shelter and Emergency Shelter operations will end January 31, 2022.