Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos' fund donates $5.25 million to help Central Florida homeless families

The Homeless Services Network of Central Florida on Thursday announced that they have been selected to receive a $5.25 million grant from the Bezos Day 1 Families Fund.

They said that the grant, which is funded by Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, was given to them to help the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness provide services for homeless families.  The funds will benefit several agencies in Central Florida that work with the area's homeless population. The numerous agencies work with individuals and families to help keep them in a home or to find a home if they find themselves out on the street.

“We are incredibly grateful for this generous investment in our work to ensure all families in our community are connected with the supports and services they need,” said Martha Are, CEO of Homeless Services Network, the agency that will administer the award. “Central Florida is one of the most challenging areas in the nation for families facing homelessness, and this investment will help the Commission, HSN and our partners continue to change that narrative and make a positive impact for families.”

With this grant, they said that the Commission will be able to expand their work to identify unsheltered families with children and move them into permanent housing as quickly as possible. It will also help support the expansion of diversion programs to keep families with children from entering the emergency shelter system if other safe options are available. They also plan to increase the capacity of low-barrier emergency shelters and serve more families with rapid re-housing and other permanent housing projects.

Bezos reportedly launched the Day 1 Fund in 2018. It focuses on funding existing nonprofits that help homeless families and creating a network of new, nonprofit tier-one preschools in low-income communities. In this year alone, the fund has issued a total of $98.5 million in grants to 32 nonprofits across the nation.

Agencies from 23 states received grants on Thursday. Administrators with the Homeless Services Network of Central Florida say they feel very fortunate to receive the gift. Their grant was among the largest awarded. The $5.25 million grant is paid out over a five year period.