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$2 Million Hillsborough County Investment Helps Local Nonprofit Fight Against Homelessness

New Dawning Family Services Housing Solution Center focuses on making homelessness rare, brief, and one-time occurrence

A soft spot to land, that is what Dawning Family Services wants its new Housing Solution Center to be for families who are experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness.

For more than 40 years, Dawning Family Services has served the Tampa Bay area community. Now it's working from a brand-new headquarters in West Tampa thanks to a $2 million renovation project funded by Hillsborough County that transformed a former funeral home into the modern complex.

"This moment would not have been possible without the vision and leadership of the Hillsborough County Board of County Commissioners and the Affordable Housing team," Dawning Family Services CEO Mona Duffus said. "With this new facility, we are able to increase our impact within our community and expand our services to more families having issues obtaining stable housing."

Hillsborough County Affordable Housing provided Dawning Family Services $2 million in Community Development Block Grant funds to do extensive plumbing, HVAC, and electrical work, and to create training rooms, computer labs, and office space. The funds also were used to improve the parking lot, driveway, fencing, fire-suppression and drainage systems, and other major projects that will allow for future expansion on the site.

The renovations will help the organization's programs more effectively provide stability and sustainability for people in Hillsborough County. Shamika Williams is just one example of the residents that Dawning Family Services positively impacts. Williams found herself in need of help after escaping a domestic violence situation. Williams, who's been a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) for 17 years, reached out to Dawning Family Services to help stabilize her recently upended life. The nonprofit immediately stepped in to be the soft spot for her and her three young children to land.

Dawning Family Services provided her and her children safe and secure emergency housing in addition to wrap-around services, including day care for her children and money to renew her CNA license so she could find a job to support her family. After going through the worst part of her life earlier this year, she looks back at Dawning Family Services as the reason why she and her three children are now safe and happy.

"My children and I have no more tears or hunger," Williams said. "I can only say how thankful I am for everything you [Dawning Family Services] have done for me and my family."

Dawning Family Services incorporates programs and case management to create a personalized plan for each family that it serves, like they did for the Williams family. The myriad of services includes safe and secure bridge housing, housing search programs, employment services, post-housing support, and prevention and diversion services.

In 2021, the nonprofit partner provided emergency bridge housing to 292 women, men, and children, served more than 70 families through post-shelter support services, and served 96 families through rapid re-housing services.

"We have the privilege to provide housing and hope to the most vulnerable families in our community," Duffus said. "We want to make homelessness rare, brief, and a one-time occurrence for families in Hillsborough County, and we look forward to doing so with our funders, partners, and community volunteers."


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