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Congreso Secures $5 Million Bezos Day One Fund Grant to Address Housing Insecurity in Philadelphia

Since its inception in 2018, the Bezos Day One Family Fund has distributed more than $300 million to hundreds of nonprofit organizations providing impactful social services in communities across the United States.

The effort was created by Amazon CEO and world’s richest man Jeff Bezos alongside his ex-wife Mackenzie Scott, and one of the 42 winners in 2020 is the Congreso de Latinos Unidos from North Philadelphia.

The grant is $5 million and aims to address housing insecurity and homelessness in the city.

“At Congreso, we know the power of a safe and stable home – a space where families can come together and focus on building a bright future of economic self-sufficiency and well-being,” said the director. executive of Congress. Carolina Cabrera DiGiorgio about the price. “We are grateful to the Day 1 Families Fund for selecting us so that we can continue to serve and support families to make this basic right a reality.”

Philadelphia has long held the title of “America’s poorest major city”, with a poverty rate of more than 20%. It’s a distinction city leaders are trying to erase, but the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 has thrown a wrench in some parts of the plan, while accelerating other aspects.

When it comes to housing, since the pandemic hit the city in March and caused it to shut down, some city council members and other community leaders have warned of a “tsunami of evictions” that is expected to unfold. collapse on the city if no moratorium or alternative rent payment avenues are in place.

So far, Philadelphia has a moratorium until the end of the year and extended parts of his Emergency Housing Protection Actwho died in June.

But it’s not just the city government battling the looming housing crisis. Nonprofits and community organizations across the city have also provided both direct housing assistance and advice to housing resources throughout the pandemic.

At Congreso there is a whole branch of its services dedicated to providing housing assistance to the community.

According to data provided by the non-profit organization, it has provided 565 families with housing advice and rental assistance since the start of the pandemic.

“All have been assigned a housing counselor, but the demand is endless,” Julia Rivera, Congreso’s director of external affairs, wrote in an email.

She also wrote that much of the housing advice was about fair housing and the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords.

For its other housing assistance programs, there are 65 active clients in Congress’ Housing Opportunities for Persons with AIDS (HOPWA) program, 29 in its Rapid Rehousing program, and 12 in its Rapid Rehousing Reunification program, in partnership with the Town. of the Philadelphia Department of Social Services.

The nonprofit has also held virtual homeownership workshops throughout the pandemic.

With the $5 million grant, Congreso is still determining how best to allocate the money among its existing programs, but also hasn’t ruled out launching new aid programs based on new research and related models. in the fight against homelessness.

“We also look forward to connecting and working with our community leaders and partners in this space to ensure funds are used intentionally and effectively, as well as in harmony with other related resources and opportunities,” wrote Rivera.

This article is part of Broke in Philly, a collaborative reporting project between more than 20 news organizations focused on economic mobility in Philadelphia. Read all our reports as brokeninphilly.org.

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