For more than a year, YWCA Columbus ’ Downtown shelter has been filled beyond capacity with homeless families.
That could soon change thanks to a one-time $2.5-million grant that is intended to improve the nonprofit’s ability to help families facing homelessness find housing.
The grant is courtesy of Jeff Bezos’ Day 1 Families Fund, which the Amazon founder and CEO started in 2018 to assist organizations across the country that combat family homelessness. YWCA Columbus is one of 32 nonprofits across the U.S. to receive the second annual Day 1 Families Fund grants, which totaled $98.5 million this year.
Excited to announce this year’s Bezos Day One grants. Thank you to these 32 organizations in 23 states working to end homelessness. I recently spent time with the amazing team at Community of Hope in Washington, D.C. – one of last year’s grantees. https://t.co/Lfy5LUWT99pic.twitter.com/L0JeDUrjAY
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) November 21, 2019 YWCA Columbus — the only organization in central Ohio to receive the funding — will use the grant to pilot an intervention-based approach to improve the time it takes to help homeless individuals find permanent housing, said Christie Angel, YWCA Columbus president and CEO. Referred to as a “rapid re-housing model,” the approach includes helping individuals with housing identification, rent and move-in assistance.
The goal is to reduce the average person’s stay at the 4th Street shelter from 46 to 40 days, allowing the organization to serve more families. Because of the grant, Angel said they anticipate serving an additional 400 families in the next five years, making for a total of 2,000 families who will use YWCA’s services in that time.
“We’re really looking to reduce their stay in the shelter and get them in their home as quickly as possible,” Angel said. “It’s a game changer for us, quite frankly.”
Bezos launched the Bezos Day One Fund with a commitment of $2 billion and a focus on two areas: funding existing nonprofits that help homeless families with shelter and food and creating a network of preschools in low-income communities.
YWCA applied for the Day 1 Families Fund grant in October and learned that they had received it earlier this month. It was welcome news to Angel, who said the 50-room shelter has been over capacity since 2018, requiring some families to sleep on cots in the multipurpose area or be put on wait lists.
“It’s great for YWCA Columbus, but it also puts a spotlight on the continued work that is necessary not just to serve homeless families, but the homeless community,” Angel said. “It’s recognition for Columbus and a testament for the work we do together to serve those in need in our community.”