When Secretary Fudge traveled to Orlando in late October, local organizations fighting to keep young adults from becoming homeless received more than good news. Secretary Fudge presented a $8.3 million grant to Homeless Network of Central Florida (HSN) to help coordinate partner agencies who provide continuum of care services in an area where at least 250 people ages 18 to 24 are estimated to be homeless on any given night. HSN is the lead agency for the Central Florida Commission on Homelessness which includes Osceola, Seminole and Orange Counties, and the Cities of Orlando, Kissimmee, and Sanford.
While in the area, Secretary Fudge and HUD's Southeast leadership team, including Regional Administrator Jose Alvarez, Deputy Regional Administrator Tiffany Cobb, and Jacksonville Field Office Director Alesia Scott Ford, hosted a roundtable on homeless prevention. Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings, HSN CEO Martha Are, and community leaders shared their needs, concerns, and strides towards ending homelessness. Also in attendance were HUD Community Planning and Development Director Larry Hayes and Specialist Lori Serino.
Central Florida is also in the early stages of recovery in the aftermath of catastrophic Hurricane Ian, which made landfall in late September. To help local communities hit by disasters, Secretary Fudge announced, at a Disaster Recovery roundtable, the first round of funding allocations through the new Rapid Unsheltered Survivor Housing (RUSH) program. The first round of funding consists of $6.8 million to the State of Florida and seven of the state's localities impacted by Hurricane Ian.
During the final roundtable of the trip, the HUD team addressed affordable housing issues with State Rep. Val Demings (FL-10), community leaders, city, and county officials. Florida's accelerating housing challenges include ongoing property insurance cost increases aggravated by natural disasters, working families struggling to make rent and mortgage payments, challenges to find temporary shelter and assistance with home repairs. Secretary Fudge highlighted the importance of developing resilient communities, the critical need to strengthen affordable housing partnerships and offered the steadfast support of HUD program, resources, and team.