“Based on the spread in Wuhan and subsequently Europe, I sensed that it was inevitable that the US was likely going to experience a similar outcome."
Florida Covid Response Fund had a truly unique beginning. Gregg Weiss, one of the organization's founders and longtime veteran of mobilizing communities and businesses during catastrophic events started a Facebook group called “Florida Coronavirus Updates And Information” just 2 days after the first confirmed case of Covid-19 was confirmed in the US. “Based on the spread in Wuhan and subsequently Europe, I sensed that it was inevitable that the US was likely going to experience a similar outcome” said Gregg.
Knowing that Florida was one of the nations top destinations for international travel, he anticipated Florida could be hit especially hard by the virus. Enlisting the help of friends experienced in areas including science, medicine, marketing and other skill sets needed in times of crisis, the group launched as a central social medial location for Floridians to gain information and resources for dealing with the burgeoning pandemic. In the early weeks of the pandemic, the team partnered with Ryan Salazar of Broadcast Beat Studios to create and broadcast a weekly live show called “Information Connection: Alert – Covid-19” in which the team interviewed experts in the fields of epidemiology, mental health, medicine and many other subjects aimed at helping people understand and cope with the pandemic.
As the pandemic gained traction, the group grew rapidly to 30,000 members. Along with quick growth came many stories from members about hardships caused by the nationwide shutdown and subsequent loss of income. After spending many hours over weeks on dozens of calls and zoom meetings with state officials, non-profit organizations to assess what was and wasn’t being done to help Floridians affected by the pandemic, Gregg saw what he describes as a ticking time bomb: Housing insecurity
The statistics were daunting. More than 1 in 3 renters in Florida were behind one or more months in their rent. 6% of homeowners were behind on their mortgages. As the unemployment claims grew from 5 million per week to a staggering 20 million plus, it became evident that even with the 90 day moratorium on evictions, and the forbearance option created by the CARES act, that without intervention, thousands of Floridians could lose their housing.
In addition to housing insecurity, Floridians were increasingly at risk of “Food Insecurity” defined as not having adequate access to nutritional food. Thus “Florida Covid Response Fund” was born with the mission to assist low income Floridians facing eviction or foreclosure through financial grants or pro-bono legal assistance spearheaded by a group of 30 attorneys led by South Florida lawyer Evan Rosen, an expert in housing law. Through partnerships with regional food banks, the organizations secondary goal was to help assist with the procurement of nutrient dense and accessible meals for those in need.
FCRF enlisted the help and guidance of Foundation For Collective Impact, a 501c3 dedicated to helping guide small to midsize non-profits and community based initiatives maximize impact though their team of experts in the areas of non-profit compliance, donor development, community relations, PR and more. Through this collective effort, FCRF and its dedicated team are now set to assist Florida residents, non-profit agencies and community organizations during this next critical phase of the pandemic.
“What if we were able to put some of our kitchen staff back to work and pumped out thousands of meals a day that would feed the Subculture family and thousands of other restaurant workers who now don’t have a job?”