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United Way advances money to struggling homeless agencies -

Page 1 of 2,0,5483205.story United Way advances money to struggling homeless agencies By Kate Santich, Orlando Sentinel 7:38 PM EDT, June 26, 2013 The Heart of Florida United Way stepped forward Wednesday with a $750,000 advance to Central Florida homeless agencies to ease part of the pain caused by a delay in federal funding.

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United Way CEO Robert "Bob" Brown said his organization will give six months of advance payments to 15 nonprofits that serve the homeless and hungry in Orange, Osceola and Seminole counties, totaling $750,000. Since it is money the United Way would normally distribute anyway, the nonprofits will not have to repay it, and they can use it to keep their programs afloat until overdue federal checks arrive. "I was aware of the problem, but I wasn't aware of how hard it was hitting some of the nonprofits involved," Brown said of the delayed federal funds. "So I started thinking of how we would address it … and we decided to go ahead and prepay our partner agencies so they don't have to run around worrying about how they're going to make payroll instead of helping clients." Earlier this week, the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida had announced it was seeking a loan to cover a delay in grants due from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Although HUD announced in early March that it would distribute $5.6 million to some 39 Central Florida nonprofits that serve the homeless, the money is several months behind schedule in reaching the recipients — a snag the government blames on a new allocation system. The delay had left some nonprofits desperate to cover rent and utilities for families in transitional housing programs — families that would otherwise be evicted. The United Way advance addresses only part of the shortfall, though. Cathy Jackson, executive director of the Homeless Services Network — an umbrella agency that applied for the grants and distributes the funds — said only six of the 15 agencies receiving the United Way advances are affected by the HUD logjam. The others, she said, still need help. 7/1/2013

United Way advances money to struggling homeless agencies -

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But because United Way is also an umbrella agency, Brown said the best option was to ensure the programs funded under his agency are financially stable. "It's not extra money they're getting," he said. "It's just improving their cash flow." To Andrew Powell, executive director of the Rescue Outreach Mission in Sanford, one of the agencies hardest hit by the HUD delay, the United Way money means families in transitional housing won't be evicted. "This really helps us," Powell said. "We can move past this financial crisis and get back to focusing on our clients." For other agencies, the advance was simply a happy surprise. At Christian HELP in Casselberry, for instance, the advance will boost a new employment initiative that will provide 140 low-income residents with job skills, financial literacy, legal aid and interviewing training. "Oh, my goodness, yes — these funds are a big help in getting this effort off the ground," Executive Director Sandi Vidal said. or 407-420-5503 Copyright Š 2013, Orlando Sentinel 7/1/2013

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