Salvation Army hopes to turn hardship into home ownership

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By Chalisa Budhai
For the News-Gazette

Pathway to Housing is a grassroots program – a partnership between like-minded entities – dedicated to providing accessible and affordable housing to those in need in the face of adversity.

Osceola County Commission Peggy Choudhry and Salvation Army leaders of Orange and Osceola County announced the program — and funding from the county government and business partners of more than one million — at a Monday morning rally.

With Choudhry’s daughter, Athena Choudhry, as emcee, leaders from each organization showed up to talk about every aspect of the project and its working mechanisms.

Here’s how it works: Eligible families will be drawn from the ALICE community – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. They will receive payments equivalent to one year’s rent, which will allow these families to save for a down payment.

The program was created in partnership with a handful of area organizations – Osceola County, Salvation Army, Housing 4 All, La Rosa Realty and Walmart. Choudhry presented a check for $1 million from the county, made up of funds already earmarked for housing assistance which is now specifically dedicated – $500,000 in case management and homelessness prevention and recovery funds , $300,000 in housing assistance, $105,000 in community assistance and $95,000 in multilingual community solidarity funds. All were part of the county’s fiscal year 2022 budget.

In addition, Walmart made a corporate contribution of $50,000. This initiative strengthens self-sufficiency and guarantees citizens access to the essentials of life, paving the way for future institutional changes. As the commissioner said, “the light at the end of the tunnel is home ownership.”

“Superior service leading to a permanent path of self-sufficiency. Imagine, a year after walking through the doors of The Salvation Army, you are able to have a down payment to become a first-time homeowner. Instead of duplicating services, we come together to provide services. »

Capt. Ken Chapman, Salvation Army area commander in Osceola and Orange County, said he’s committed to starting with eight to 10 families already vetted, ensuring they receive financial advice to ensure long-term stability.

“It’s the best day ever in Osceola County,” he said. “Housing as a problem in Central Florida is getting worse. Families cannot afford housing. When nonprofits, for-profits, and donors come together to help the community, we have a healthy community. »

Candidates are offered solutions to their situation, comprehensive services ranging from career development to financial literacy courses through case managers. Every candidate, whether child or adult, will be instructed in crucial finance skills – children educated by La Rosa Foundation and adults by Housing for All. Together, these organizations break the generational cycle, the bond of poverty, by providing inclusive and free education to these families.

“We believe in a helping hand rather than a handout, because when you give a handout, you’re stopping people,” Chapman said. “We are here to break multigenerational cycles and make the world a better place, with residents living in their own homes.”

Wendall Philips, representing Housing for All, emphasized creating a legacy through effective collaboration between these companies. Captain Chapman elaborated on this idea, saying that the specialization of financial support education is capable of the synergy of each party. Candidates have a sense of accomplishment and confidence as they progress through each level, developing a second family of support with The Salvation Army.

“We’re helping our Osceola County residents, who work in Osceola County, buy homes in Osceola County,” Choudhry said, noting the program helps continue to centralize awareness and support. businesses to uplift residents suffering from the current state of the housing market. , rising interest rates and inflation.

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