Cecelia and her husband spent the first 7 months after Irma hauling gallons of gasoline from their small dinghy aboard their sailboat to power the emergency generator needed for lights and a small refrigerator. Now, thanks to support from United Way of the Florida Keys, her boat’s two solar panels that were destroyed in the hurricane have been replaced, allowing them to regain a sense of normalcy. Cecelia is just one of thousands of families that have been supported through the $1.6 million raised and allocated by UWFK to assist with Hurricane Irma relief, rebuilding and recovery efforts in Monroe County.
As time has passed from the initial devastation, UWFK’s focus has shifted from providing immediate relief to how we can assist in the community’s rebuilding. UWFK’s latest round of $221,300 in funding will support long-term recovery efforts throughout Monroe County. Our latest funding addresses affordable housing, legal services, and other issues related to Hurricane Irma.
Drawing of the Keys Cottages being placed on Big Pine Key as affordable housing.
$22,500- Florida Keys Community Land Trust: United Way of the Florida Keys supports the building of the first home in Big Pine through the Florida Keys Community Land Trust. Affordable housing is one of the most challenging needs in our community and UWFK is proud to be at the forefront of supporting this effort to rebuild where houses were destroyed by Irma and provide housing to those who lost their homes. The Florida Keys Community Land Trust seeks to address the affordable housing crisis magnified by Hurricane Irma by developing privately funded, permanently affordable rental housing through the community land trust model. They will construct Keys Cottages, energy efficient and resilient homes that go up quickly, and the first home will be available as a rental by July 2018.
$108,800- Direct Case Management: Florida Keys Outreach Coalition’s Quick Assist Program ($54,400) in the Lower and Upper Keys and Keys Area Interdenominational Resource’s Shelter Needs Program ($54,400) in the Middle Keys will provide financial assistance for clients with storm-related losses. Recognizing the overwhelming need for emergency financial assistance, UWFK began a direct case management program in October 2017. Now that the height of the crisis has passed, the program is transitioning to UWFK partner agencies already providing this much-needed service year-round.
$75,000- Long-Term Recovery Group Monroe County: The Long Term Recovery Group Monroe County, Florida (LTRG) was formed by non-profit and faith-based organizations to help address the damage created by Hurricane Irma and to better prepare for future disasters. The LTRG functions in two important roles; to connect and coordinate nonprofit services to storm victims and to fill the funding gap to assist families when all other funding options have been exhausted.
The LTRG is working with foundations across the country to secure funding for administration expenses and direct client assistance. UWFK’s funding shows local support for Monroe County’s own recovery and is a critical part of demonstrating our community’s commitment to recovery. This support will assist storm victims in desperate need with help rebuilding their lives.
$15,000- Legal Services of Greater Miami- Legal Services of Greater Miami (Legal Services) is the only provider of free civil legal services to the low income residents of Monroe County and Miami-Dade. With UWFK support, Legal Services will provide legal assistance dedicated to serving Hurricane Irma victims in Monroe County. The need for free legal services has been increasing over the past several months and disaster relief professionals estimate that the peak demand for legal help will be 12-18 months after the storm. This funding will allow their team of attorneys to assist Keys residents in navigating the many legal challenges following a disaster.
Additionally, UWFK recently announced 2018-2019 Community Investment grant recipients totaling $496,000 to support 26 nonprofit programs providing access to nutritious food, childcare support or safety net services for those suffering from Hurricane Irma’s devastation. Recognizing the overwhelming need currently faced by our community, this is triple the amount typically allocated in for this annual funding cycle.
“As the leader in community caring, the importance of UWFK’s work in the community has never been greater than it has in the last eight months,” says UWFK Chair Maria Jones. “I’m grateful for the overwhelming generosity of so many neighbors and supporters from within the United Way network and beyond who have joined us in this effort helping the Keys community. Responding to our community members in need has always been central to UWFK’s mission and it remains our greatest priority following Irma.”
The combined $717,300 for these long-term recovery efforts complements UWFK’s previous relief work which began just days after Irma and has addressed unmet needs such as rental assistance, childcare scholarships and mental health counselling. The $1.6 million now allocated or disbursed by UWFK into our community will truly change lives throughout Monroe County. A complete list of UWFK’s Hurricane relief efforts can be found here.