Effective January 1st, The Florida Keys Outreach Coalition For The Homeless, Inc. (FKOC) will begin operating as a subsidiary of A.H. of Monroe County, Inc. (AH) in what leaders from both organizations call an “integration of services and expansion of missions”.
Both organizations have been working with a facilitator for the past 18 months on the “how” to proceed as one organization.
The “why” was simpler, according to Samuel Kaufman, FKOC Board Chair.
“FKOC needed to plan for the future by strengthening the sustainability of the organization to not only maintain its mission, but also to expand its mission to create a pathway from homelessness to permanently housed”.
Since its incorporation as a non-profit in 1992, FKOC provides homeless prevention and shelter throughout Monroe County, Florida. Those include essential services that prevent homelessness; when homelessness has already occurred, FKOC offers effective multi-stage housing programs.
AH Board President Rebecca Balcer says that the conjoining of the two makes sense on many levels and “the ‘why’ was easy…and now we have in place the ‘how’.”
As Balcer says, “AH has become a more active affordable housing developer and housing advocate, such as with the Lofts at Bahama Village. In addressing the extreme housing shortage in the Key West, why wouldn’t we also provide stewardship to the risks of homelessness? It was an easy decision for the AH Board.”
AH Executive Director Scott Pridgen points out that “the two Agencies have worked together for years referring clients for services. Also, the two Agencies are involved in a redevelopment plan for Poinciana’s Special Needs Housing, where FKOC and other nonprofits provide homeless housing services. What seemed like a courtship for many years made sense that we marry the two organizations”.
“Housing is healthcare,” Pridgen notes. “AH’s mission of Health + Housing is uniquely aligned with FKOC’s mission”.
Since its inception, the AH mission has been caring for people living with HIV, as well as prevention of HIV through health and housing initiatives.
“We cannot address health or homelessness without housing,” Pridgen adds.
“With AH… FKOC will not only be able to continue to be solution-oriented to encourage self-sufficiency, stability and opportunity, but also build housing for it,” Kaufman adds.
“From homelessness to home ownership, we can provide both to address the health of our community,” Pridgen states.
More on the mission of FKOC can be found at fkoc.org and on social media at www.facebook.com/FloridaKeysOutreachCoalition.