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Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and Community Housing Innovations

Kick Off Regional Initiative to Help Homeless Families

CHI’s Fresh Start Program Allows the Public to Make Direct Donations to
Homeless Families in Five Counties this Holiday Season

 In an effort to address the growing problem of homelessness among New York families, Community Housing Innovations (CHI) and Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone have joined together to launch the CHI Fresh Start program. This initiative will allow the public to directly purchase Bed Bath & Beyond® gift cards for homeless families in five counties outside of New York City.

As part of the kick-off for this program, Mr. Bellone presented the Harris family with the first-ever CHI Fresh Start-funded $100 Bed Bath & Beyond gift card, which he has purchased as a gift. CHI has also secured housing for this family of five — all Long Island natives — which includes three children, age five, 16 and 17, who have all been without a home for 14 months due to job loss and rent increases.

“As we are all thinking about and preparing for the holidays, there are many families who are in search of a permanent home,” said Mr. Bellone. “Today, we had the opportunity to introduce a family to their new home and provide them with much-needed assistance in purchasing the items necessary to make this house a home. I applaud Community Housing Innovations and Bed Bath and Beyond for collaborating on the launch the Fresh Start Program.”

Community Housing Innovations, the largest provider of housing for the homeless in suburban New York, has connected with Bed Bath & Beyond to encourage individuals, families and businesses alike to purchase gift cards through the Bed Bath & Beyond special toll-free number; 844-52-I-CARE. One hundred percent of this anonymous, tax-deductible donation will be given to a family or individual currently living in a local shelter in Nassau, Suffolk, Westchester, Dutchess and Orange Counties to purchase household items from the retailer. Donors will receive an acknowledgment of their contribution for tax purposes.

“No family should have to spend the holidays in a homeless shelter, yet thousands of low-income New York individuals and families find themselves in that situation,” says Alexander Roberts, Executive Director of CHI. “Our goal is to provide a $100 gift card to each family when they find permanent housing, but the public may donate whatever amount they like, starting at as little as $5.”

CHI provides housing for one thousand homeless people, including more than 200 families in Suffolk County—primarily single mothers and children—each night in shelters and emergency apartments.  While social workers and housing specialists do their best, families face the bleak prospect of spending the joyous holiday season alone with strangers. Finding an affordable, permanent home takes an average of four months. Since most people are in emergency housing due to eviction or foreclosure, they often have very little to their names. While counties provide the bare essentials—beds, a dining table, a couch—the gift cards will allow the families to buy linens, blankets, pillows and housewares that turn a house or apartment into a home.

Community Housing Innovations, Inc. provides the housing and human services necessary to enable low- and moderate-income families and individuals to achieve the greatest social and economic independence at the lowest cost to society. For more information on CHI, visit www.chigrants.org.

CHI Homeless Programs in Long Island Newsday

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