Pensacola, Fla. (June 18, 2020)—As COVID-19 swept the nation and unemployment began to reach staggering heights, the housing crisis quickly escalated leaving Americans seeking aid. Residents in Pensacola have been faced with the threat of illegal evictions, but in the coming weeks, many could receive a lifeline.
United Ministries assists families experiencing a financial crisis with rent or utility bills and strives to operate as agents of grace in the community, serving those in need with compassion and empathy. In partnership with Hancock Whitney—one of America’s strongest, safest banks—the organization will provide $25,000 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.
"Because of the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on our community, families are still struggling to pay rent and utility bills,” said United Ministries Director of Operations Katherine Kupar. “We are grateful to Hancock Whitney for their support of our ministry. Their grant will make a difference in the lives of those families who are struggling."
Assistance includes directly supporting an estimated 50 clients with rent relief.
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,” said Vredenburg. “At Hancock Whitney, our institution is anchored in values, reinforced with resilience, and focused on opportunity. 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-ministries.com for more information.
About Hancock Whitney
Since the late 1800s, Hancock Whitney has embodied core values of Honor & Integrity, Strength & Stability, Commitment to Service, Teamwork, and Personal Responsibility. Hancock Whitney offices and financial centers in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, and Texas offer comprehensive financial products and services, including traditional and online banking; commercial and small business banking; private banking; trust and investment services; healthcare banking; certain insurance services; and mortgage services. The company also operates a loan production office in Nashville, Tennessee, as well as trust and asset management offices in New Jersey and New York. BauerFinancial, Inc., the nation’s leading independent bank rating and analysis firm, consistently recommends Hancock Whitney as one of America’s most financially sound banks. More information is available at www.hancockwhitney.com.
United Ministries is one of fifteen agencies to receive funding from the United Way of West Florida COVID-19 Response Fund. Funding was awarded to agencies in Escambia and Santa Rosa county that directly serve clients in need of food, rent, or utility assistance. United Ministries values this partnership with United Way of West Florida, and the efforts all agencies to serve our community in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
Read the full release below:
UNITED WAY OF WEST FLORIDA DISTRIBUTES $246,266 IN PHASE ONE OF COVID-19 RESPONSE FUNDING
PENSACOLA, FLA. – April 16, 2020 United Way of West Florida (UWWF) has distributed its first phase of COVID-19 Response Funding to nonprofit agencies providing direct support to impacted individuals and families in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.
The COVID-19 Response Fund will target assistance to ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households that have been economically impacted by the pandemic with expenses such as rent, mortgage, utilities, childcare, and other household expenses.
“The ALICE population has been significantly affected by this pandemic,” said President and CEO, Laura Gilliam. “These are hardworking individuals, but one missed paycheck can lead to financial crisis, which is where many of them are now.”
Phase One is disbursing roughly 70% of the fund for immediate, basic needs via an expedited grant process to current UWWF Certified Partner Agencies. Remaining and additional funding will be distributed at a later date and will focus on community priorities. To facilitate the distribution process and approve Phase One grants, United Way of West Florida convened a COVID-19 Response Fund Committee comprised of board members and community volunteers.
The following organizations are receiving Phase One disbursements totaling $246,266. As United Way of West Florida Certified Partner Agencies, these organizations are annually vetted to ensure their financial health, governance, and nonprofit best practices.
Agencies will not give money directly to individuals but will work with local vendors like landlords or utility companies, and food will be distributed by agencies. Recipients of COVID-19 funds through this grant process will be required to submit bi-weekly reports regarding disbursement of their funds.
Big Brothers Big Sisters, BRACE, Covenant Hospice, Epilepsy Florida, Gulf Coast Kid’s House, and Re-Entry Alliance Pensacola will assist their own clients. For information on how to access assistance, please dial 211.
UWWF’s COVID-19 Fund has received corporate contributions from the Gulf Power Foundation, Florida Blue, Beach Community Bank, and Navy Federal Credit Union. An additional 66 individual donations total nearly $11,000.
“The outpouring of support from our community has been inspiring,” said UWWF Board Chair, Jack Lowrey. “We’ve had significant corporate contributions, individual gifts, and some folks have donated their Economic Impact Payments to us,” he added. “No matter the size, they all make a difference in our ability to respond to this unprecedented time as a community.”
To make a donation to United Way of West Florida’s COVID-19 Response Fund, text 850Respond to 41444 or visit www.uwwf.org/covid19fund. Businesses considering a corporate contribution are encouraged to contact Director of Development, Bart Hudson, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Individuals in need of information about available resources or services are encouraged to contact 211 Northwest Florida, powered locally by United Way of West Florida. Simply dial 211 or visit www.211nwfl.org to speak with a trained Information and Referral Specialist. The program is completely free, confidential, and available 24/7.
United Way of West Florida is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that fights for the health, education, and financial stability of every citizen in our community. UWWF has operated locally for 96 years with a vision of a community United to create better opportunities for all. By investing in programs, participating in partnerships, and leveraging resources, UWWF works to meet a mission of Uniting our community to improve lives.
Dear United Ministries partners, donors, volunteers, and clients
At United Ministries, our preeminent concern is the health and safety of our volunteers, staff, and clients. Therefore, due to concerns regarding the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), effective Monday, March 23 United Ministries’ office will be closed. United Ministries staff will continue to monitor client requests and referrals.
Clients in need of assistance can click here to submit a web request Additionally, clients are encouraged to contact landlords and utility companies, many of whom are making accommodations in light of COVID-19 and may offer some form of relief upon request.
On or before April 6, United Ministries will announce continued office closure or resumption of normal operations. We will continue to monitor recommendations from the CDC and the Florida Department of Health.
Families in our community have already and will continue to experience the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic. To support families with rent and utility bills, click here to donate.