In late 2018, due to a desire to create deeper connections in our community, Heart for Winter Haven began building a relationship with the City of Winter Haven. Because of this friendship, we were able to be at the forefront of a discussion on homelessness among families with students in our local area schools. In 2019, 538 children in our community schools were found to be experiencing homelessness. Almost all of these families were working, but their income was insufficient due to skyrocketing housing costs and limited available inventory as our population has grown. We needed to respond. And we have!
With the support of The City of Winter Haven, the Winter Haven/Downtown CRA and our non-profit partners, we formed the Housing Partnership of Winter Haven as a means to strengthen families and share the hope that abides within us. This initiative allowed us to begin serving at-risk families that were facing homelessness. In addition, we began offering housing counsel, with referrals to partnering agencies. These associations, along with the charitable contributions from our champion donors, have allowed us to work with not only families who are at-risk, but assist in the rehousing of already homeless families. Through these services, we are currently working to provide a faith-based financial literacy class, reliable renters class, and client-based care plans to assist in educating and stabilizing those we serve.
We have a workable plan and strategy, we have resources, and we have YOU, our community! With God’s help, we have everything we need to change the future for these families and their children. We have begun with an eviction prevention and rapid re-housing program, but we are also looking to increase the number of available housing units for working families to attain.
If you’d like to participate in this effort, or if you are in need of assistance, please contact Bee Gallison, Director of Programs, at our office. We continue to need:
- builders and buildings
- investors and resources
- skilled labor
- supportive friends that will join us as gospel neighbors in restoring our neighborhoods and community