COCOA — Family Promise of Brevard, Inc. is taking the next steps to provide better service to the community through relocating and expanding its office.
The city of Cocoa approved of a 20-year lease where the nonprofit organization would move into Cocoa Fire Station No. 1 off Dixon Boulevard and Clearlake Road.
Community leaders from Representative Tyler Sirois (R-Dist. 51) and Sheriff Wayne Ivey to nonprofit directors wrote letters of support to the Cocoa City Council.
On Aug. 24, the council unanimously approved of a $1-per-year lease without needed Family Promise to present its case.
“Last year was really pivotal for us, we saw the pandemic as an opportunity to address the root causes of housing instability,” said Tara Pagliarini executive director of Family Promise of Brevard.
Family Promise of Brevard is a nonprofit organization that aims to end family homeless by providing shelter, stabilization and prevention.
Through its free services, the organization offers case management, transportation, and education toward financial capability and career pathways.
Ms. Pagliarini stressed, however, that while it’s great to offer hope to the community, people won’t see change until the root causes of poverty are addressed, such as the wage gap between income and housing.
“Last year we had a 450% increase in our referral rate and we began to talk about how do we truly disrupt the influx of families needing this kind of level of support?” Ms. Pagliarini said. “It really got down to addressing the wage for low-wage earners but also affordable housing.”
One of the solutions Family Promise of Brevard leaders came up with was to relocate its base of operations into an area of greatest need, where most of the referrals was coming from.
About two-thirds of the nonprofit’s calls were coming from Central Brevard in zip code 32922, Ms. Pagliarini said.
“About 73% of families there are one paycheck away from potentially losing housing because they fall in a category called ALICE,” Ms. Pagliarini stated. “They’re paying so much toward housing cost.”
The average household income in the 32922 zip code is $20,000 per year, whereas compared to the rest of the county, it’s $40,000 per year.
The relocation to Cocoa Firehouse Station No. 1 will not only increase access to the nonprofit’s services by being along a bus route and closer to those that need it, it will also combine its services with other agencies who can address health, income and education.
The larger space would mean Family Promise could offer a community classroom for educational and industry certification that can elevate families to a living wage.
Adults earning $9 per hour can eventually start earning $16 per hour.
The educational aspect is a collaborative effort with Florida College Access Network, under the initiative “Elevate Brevard: Cocoa.”
According to FCAN, 65% of jobs will require a degree or credential by the year 2025.
Family Promise of Brevard was able to secure funds through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act toward its $1 million goal for renovating the fire station.
The building is in need of complete repair from a leaky roof to asbestos.
Ms. Pagliarini said the community has really stepped up to help cover the costs, with businesses offering to do work themselves and private donors giving funds.
About 80% of the costs are covered. The last 20% of funds needed would help with building a playground and savings for an emergency fund.
Family Promise of Brevard expects to begin demolition this fall and move in to the station by July 2022.
Why the nonprofit is so critical to the county is that since 2013, it has prevented, diverted and sheltered at least 8,000 families with children from experiencing homelessness.
To learn how you can help, visit (familypromiseofbrevard.org) or call (321) 209-3391.