United Way receives $50k grant to help Orleans residents with rent, security deposits

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent Posted 27 September 2019 at 7:58 am

Photo by Ginny Kropf: Dean Bellack, director of United Way of Orleans County, waves a document informing him that his agency will be receiving $50,000 from a Monroe County benefactor to distribute to an appropriate organization which assists clientele who can’t afford suitable housing. Here, he meets with staff of Community Action, the agency United Way chose to receive the funds. From left are Amy Lester, Finance Operations Assistant with Community Action; Michelle Figueroa, case manager; Annette Finch, director of Community Services; Bellack; and Ed Fancher, executive director of Community Action.

ALBION – When Dean Bellack, executive director of United Way of Orleans County, received correspondence from United Way of Greater Rochester early in the summer that his organization would be receiving $50,000 from a Monroe County corporate donor to help with housing needs in Orleans County, he was amazed.

The gift came with the stipulation that United Way must determine the most suitable agency in Orleans County to benefit from this donation. After some careful research, Bellack, who is on Community Action’s FEMA board, chose them and met with staff on Aug. 23 to discuss how this would be implemented.

“I was speechless, but extremely happy when Dean told me,” said Annette Finch, director of Community Services at Community Action. “We experience so many clientele who can’t pay their security deposit. This is going to allow us to help some of the homeless people living in their cars or under bridges.”

“This will greatly reduce the number of people we have to turn away,” said Ed Fancher, executive director of Community Action.

The yet unnamed donor has made $450,000 available and chose United Way to administer these funds. The money will be spread to United Ways in Monroe, Orleans, Ontario and Livingston counties. These funds are targeted for rental assistance and can also be used for security deposits. The administration of this funding will be using the United Way Guidelines for ALICE – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.

“They are using United Way as their most trusted partner to distribute the funds throughout Western New York,” Bellack said.

Finch said applicants for assistance will have to adhere to strict guidelines, most of which are already in place at Community Action.

Fancher said they often get requests for assistance from individuals who fall through the cracks, like the working man who doesn’t make enough to pay for an unexpected expense, such as a car repair. He needs his car to go to work, but paying for the repair would mean he couldn’t meet the rent payment. These funds may be able to help, he said.

The funds will be received in two payments of $25,000 each, with the first payment made on Sept. 1. Agencies will have one year in which to use all the funds.

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