At Habitat for Humanity of Lee and Hendry Counties, our mission is focused on strengthening the local community by creating access to affordable homeownership. Due to COVID-19, however, the need for a safe and decent place to shelter has only increased. In the last year, countless residents in SWFL and across the country have been impacted by COVID-19 via job-loss or underemployment. In response, the government has established the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, which has provided Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to cities all over the US.
In the last months of 2020, our partnership with the City of Cape Coral provided us with an opportunity to move forward with a goal we’d established earlier that year – to do more for our community. “Doing our part to prevent COVID-impacted families from losing their homes felt like a meaningful way to expand upon the work we’re already doing,” our CEO, Becky Lucas, said regarding Habitat’s commitment to the initiative. It felt like a step in the right direction, so, at the beginning of September, we got to work with processing applications and disbursing critically needed funds to eligible Cape Coral families.
Initially, the City had received a total of $596,829 in CRF. Any family that had experienced job-loss or underemployment due to COVID-19 and submitted their paperwork during the application period would qualify to receive up to $10,000 in rent and mortgage assistance. Within the 2-week application period, however, it became apparent that the initial allotment of $596,829 would not be enough. As such, the City of Cape Coral received an additional $357,944 in CRF to help serve the need.
Hasada Palacios, a Cape Coral resident who applied for CRF, says she thought it was too good to be true. Then, after receiving the funds in October, she said, “it was absolutely a miracle and it meant everything to me. It meant keeping my home.”
Overall, this program delivered a grand total of $895,000 for rent and mortgage assistance into the hands of 193 Cape Coral families impacted by COVID-19. Through this endeavor, we’ve realized that, indeed, Habitat can be more than just an affordable housing provider. We have the relationships, the support, and the know-how to uplift hundreds of families this fiscal year – all while upholding our commitment to serve 55 families through affordable homeownership as originally intended.
Moving forward, we will strive to help every person who walks through our doors. We will, of course, continue to create wealth through homeownership. At the same time, we can work to increase economic empowerment for more individuals through financial and housing counseling. We can assist people with debt reduction and building credit. Plus, we can cater to wealth protection through home preservation, repair, and retention.
Now, our commitment to uplifting this community is stronger than ever. This is the beginning of a new way of being for all of us here at Habitat Lee and Hendry, and we look forward to serving more families on a much larger scale.
Learn more about how we plan to serve every family that walks through our doors. Or learn more about how you can help serve the Habitat mission alongside us.