A group of women want to avoid the “tsunami” of evictions | Venice Gondolier Sun
VENICE – Women United, a governing body under the United Way of South Sarasota County, held its inaugural dinner on Wednesday and members walked away with a pin, portfolio and news that UWSSC will be relocating.
President and CEO Barbara Cruz said a grant of $ 130,000 from the Selby Foundation will be used to relocate to 4242 South Tamiami Trail, in a space formerly occupied by Wells Fargo investment advisers.
And another grant, from the Barancik Foundation, will fund a full Gulfcoast legal services office in the 6,500 square foot space, she said.
The presence of lawyers for low-income residents is linked to the goal of the local Women United group – to prevent evictions when a moratorium on them expires.
A suspension imposed by an order from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ends June 30. The state does not have its own moratorium.
More than 500 eviction lawsuits are underway in the county, Cruz said.
“We know there will be a tsunami of evictions in Sarasota County” when the moratorium expires, she said.
In a video released at the dinner, Jennifer Fagenbaum, executive director of Family Promise of South Sarasota County, said that half or more of the requests for help her agency received last year were from people who had never before had financial difficulties before.
Help for the homeless is not available to them as long as they sleep in a place that can be considered housing, she said.
In another video, Chris Johnson, CEO of Suncoast Partnership to End Homelessness, said resources are often limited in scope due to the income qualifications that families who have limited assets and limited incomes, but who have a job – “ALICE” – can not answer.
ALICE families live on the brink of poverty, he said, and 74% of them are headed by a single female head of household.
There were also two success stories that members hope to create more of.
One of them was recounted on tape by Ray Gomes, a young man who struggled after his parents separated when he was young, but who persevered through hardships that led to thoughts of suicide until that he finds a life coach who believes him.
He is now an entrepreneur, one of Cutco’s top sellers, a kitchen products company, and himself a life coach.
Members and guests also overheard Judy Coleman, Cruz’s sister, who spoke of raising her son in a dilapidated house with an abusive alcoholic husband who said to him, “If I can’t have you, no one can have you. ‘other will. “
She was helping take care of her aging father and did not have the resources to leave.
Then she said, “I met Dave Waring. The best thing in the world. “
Waring, chair of the board of directors of UWSSC and longtime manager of Publix, helped her find a part-time job with the company. It helped her find the strength to change her life, she said.
“I prayed, got up and said, ‘This ends today,’ she said.
She told her husband that she wanted a divorce. He agreed, but made it a long and ugly process, she said.
She moved, even though it was right across the street. Then that house burned down, she said.
But today she and her son live in a two-bedroom apartment on the island, where she said she always wanted to live.
“It’s not much, but it’s beautiful,” she said.
This is the ending that Women United wants to offer to as many people as possible.
“We’re going to be just fierce in the way we do it,” said Cruz.