SUBSCRIBE NOW
99¢ for the first month
SUBSCRIBE NOW
99¢ for the first month

United Way providing housing, rental relief aid in Okaloosa, Walton counties

Special to Gannett

As COVID-19 swept the nation and unemployment began to reach staggering heights, the housing crisis quickly escalated leaving Americans seeking aid.

Residents in Okaloosa and Walton counties have been faced with the threat of illegal evictions, but in the coming weeks, many could receive a lifeline.  

The United Way of Emerald Coast is a local, volunteer-governed organization that works with hundreds of partners to fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in Okaloosa and Walton counties.

More:United Way Distributes $170,023 in Six-County Area

In partnership with Hancock Whitney, the organization will provide $15,000 in relief assistance to those in low- and moderate-income households who have experienced job loss, furlough, or a reduction in hours of work or pay due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. 

The United Way of Emerald Coast has partnered with Hancock Whitney to provide $15,000 in relief assistance to those in low- and moderate-income households who have experienced job loss, furlough, or a reduction in hours of work or pay due to the economic impacts of COVID-19. [CONTRIBUTED PHOTO]

“We are incredibly grateful for the support of Hancock Whitney, and we’re proud to join with them to offer a helping hand to our neighbors in need,” said CEO United Way Emerald Coast Kelly Jasen.

“With our network of community partners and supporters, we have provided assistance to more than 12,000 people in the last two months. This generous investment will allow us to continue helping as many people as possible, ensuring our neighbors have a safe place to live.” 

Assistance includes supporting the United Way Emerald Coast’s COVID-19 Relief Fund, which works to ensure the most vulnerable members of the community are supported, including ALICE. ALICE is a United Way acronym which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.

ALICE represents hard-working households who live paycheck to paycheck; reduced hours or loss of employment can be catastrophic. In total, an estimated 30 individuals and/or families will receive aid. 

In April, Hancock Whitney announced a $2.5 million investment to help people in some of the Gulf South’s most vulnerable neighborhoods during the COVID-19 pandemic –  a total of $710,000 allocated to housing organizations to fund housing assistance and legal services that provide critical eviction representation across Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.

The investment also has helped to stock local food pantries, provide cloth face masks to protect residents and first responders, and fund community health centers. 

Hancock Whitney Market President Bruce Vredenburg said the bank’s commitment to housing relief and legal services comes at a critical time as many local communities across Hancock Whitney’s banking footprint have begun, or will soon begin, to lift rental and eviction moratoriums.

“Over the past few months, we have been faced with unprecedented impacts to our local, state, and national economies,” Vredenburg said. “It is important to us that we partner with local organizations to help preserve the incomes of our neighbors, so they have every opportunity to recover.”

If you’re an individual seeking assistance, visit united-way.org for more information.