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Tuesday, May 21, 2024

North Central Florida Continuum of Care finds leadership after extended search

Unanimous vote names Fort Lauderdale-based nonprofit as new lead agency

Sign at the entrance of United Way of North Central Florida displayed on Sunday, April 7, 2024.
Sign at the entrance of United Way of North Central Florida displayed on Sunday, April 7, 2024.

North Central Florida homeless service providers avoided a near miss of losing over a million dollars in federal funding after finding a replacement lead agency, announced the Taskforce Fore Ending Homelessness Wednesday.

In a unanimous decision from Continuum of Care members April 15, Taskforce Fore Ending Homelessness was named as the new lead agency for Keys to Home. Based in Fort Lauderdale, the nonprofit is responsible for working with other CoC service providers and strategizing to prevent and end homelessness. As a lead agency, it will also assume responsibilities to secure Housing and Urban Development and Florida Department of Children of Families funding.

"Being selected as the Continuum of Care Lead Agency is not just an honor; it is a pivotal responsibility that we accept with determination and humility," said Mikal Cartier, the CEO of Taskforce Fore Ending Homelessness, in a press release.

Keys to Home, the local CoC, works as a coalition of homeless service providers across Alachua, Bradford, Gilchrist, Levy and Putnam counties. After falling nearly two months behind their original timeline to find a new lead agency, the request for proposal reopened for a later deadline of April 11.

"We are excited to partner with TaskForce and look forward to building a strong collaboration in service to our community," said Amber Miller, the president and CEO of United Way of North Central Florida, in the release.

United Way of North Central Florida, the current lead agency, announced in October 2023 it would leave the role due to concerns with the rising number of households over the poverty level not eligible for government aid. The agency will continue its role until the transition is complete. 

Concerned that a new lead agency would not be found on time for funding deadlines, Miller partnered with the statewide CoC Florida Coalition to End Homelessness and the Florida Department of Children and Families to expedite the process. As state legislation addressed homelessness and local governments allocated funds to meet recent demands, the uncertainty in leadership pressured organizations throughout Gainesville. 

“Our mission is clear — to ensure that every individual and family in the community has access to the critical support they need to regain stability and dignity. With House Bill 1365 signed by the Governor, there could not be a more appropriate time for us to step in than right now," said Jacob Torner, the vice president of Programs for Taskforce Fore Ending Homelessness, in the release.

Effective Oct. 1, the bill prohibits city and county governments from allowing people to sleep in public. 

Taskforce Fore Ending Homelessness announced plans for future meetings with community members and stakeholders within the upcoming months.

It will be the lead agency effective July 1.

Contact Diego Perdomo at dperdomo@alligator.org. Follow him on X @diegoperdomoaq.

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Diego Perdomo

Diego Perdomo is a senior journalism major and the Summer 2024 Digital Managing Editor. He previously worked as the data reporter, graphic design editor and a graphic designer. Outside of his studies, he enjoys reading comic books and biking, wondering how things would be outside of the car-dominated society.


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