Jeff Bezos charity gives $5 million to house Tampa Bay homeless families

A $5 million grant from a charity began by web entrepreneur Jeff Bezos will assist the native nonprofit St. Vincent de Paul CARES discover everlasting shelter for 400 Tampa Bay space households, officers introduced Thursday.

The present will contact about 1,000 kids in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties over the subsequent two years.

St. Vincent de Paul, a Catholic lay group centered on poverty eradication and homeless providers in St. Petersburg for nearly 60 years, was considered one of 42 recipients throughout the nation to obtain grants from the Bezos Day 1 Households Fund. The fund, a $2 billion venture began two years in the past by Bezos and his former spouse MacKenzie Scott, helps nonprofits who’re centered on homelessness reduction and creating new preschools in low-income communities.

The cash shall be used to launch St. Vincent de Paul’s No Little one Left Exterior venture, which in partnership with the Pinellas County College District and Tampa Homelessness Initiative, will assist households with kids discover everlasting shelter.

Throughout a information convention on the steps of St. Petersburg Metropolis Corridor on Thursday that Bezos was mentioned to be watching nearly, Mayor Rick Kriseman mentioned the award was transformative.

“The thought that we’re going to be altering the trajectory for a whole bunch and a whole bunch of youngsters who face poverty and homelessness is on the coronary heart of what we work for every single day on this metropolis: the creation of alternative,” he mentioned.

Bishop Gregory Parkes of the Diocese of St. Petersburg referred to as the present a well timed “gentle within the darkness” in a 12 months when the pandemic has impacted homeless folks extra acutely than others.

“Every particular person deserves the essential requirements of life: meals, clothes and shelter,” the bishop mentioned. “Offering someone with a spot to sleep not solely satisfies a fundamental want however it additionally provides that particular person dignity.”

Pinellas County faculty superintendent Mike Grego mentioned the varsity district has already been working with St. Vincent de Paul, however hopes to proceed the work. He mentioned the duty falls on all members of the group.

“It’s so vital to grasp the ramifications of homelessness,” Grego mentioned. “It’s so vital to grasp that stability of scholars is the important thing to their financial future.”

St. Vincent de Paul CEO Michael J. Raposa mentioned the present was invaluable, however solely a begin at addressing an enormous drawback. The $5 million, he mentioned, is about 5 p.c of what’s wanted to seek out everlasting housing for all homeless kids throughout Tampa Bay.

“We’re the richest, richest nation on the planet,” Raposa mentioned. “To see a homeless baby residing in a automobile within the nook of a Walmart car parking zone is unacceptable.”

He added: “We as a group need to let go of our concern of trying poverty within the face. Each time we cease at a cease gentle and we break eye contact with an individual asking for cash, each time a homeless particular person approaches us and we glance the opposite manner, it means we’re afraid to have a look at them….The answer is fixing poverty, not fixing homelessness. Homelessness is only a symptom of the better ailing that’s poverty.”

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