By JOSH FRIEDMAN
A charity created by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has issued a $5 million grant to the Community Action Partnership of San Luis Obispo County (CAPSLO) for housing homeless families.
Launched in 2018, the Bezos Day 1 Families Fund issues annual awards to organizations helping homeless families move from the streets and shelters into permanent housing. This year, the fund issued a total of $123.45 million in grants to homeless services organizations across the United States.
“This year’s Bezos Day 1 Families Fund grants go to 40 incredible groups working to end homelessness in the U.S.,” Bezos stated in a post Tuesday on his Twitter and Instagram accounts. “In five years, we’ve given more than $500 million to 167 orgs — helping expand their support of families in need. Honored to support these groups.”
A group of national advisors on homeless services for the Day 1 Families Fund selected CAPSLO as a grant recipient. CAPSLO plans to use the one-time grant funds over five years to create permanent housing for homeless families. Additionally, CAPSLO will increase its case management program in order to deploy more full-time housing navigators across the county, the local nonprofit stated in a press release.
“Over the last year, we have seen an increase in families at CAPSLO’s 40 Prado Homeless Services Center; it is great to have this additional funding to address the specific needs of families experiencing homelessness,” CAPSLO Board President Dee Lacey said in a statement. “As we establish additional services, the need for ongoing community support, county coordination, service provider collaboration, and resource development will be crucial to addressing the housing crisis.”
CAPSLO CEO Biz Steinberg released a statement saying the grant from Bezos’s fund is the most generous contribution the SLO County nonprofit has received over her long tenure with the organization.
“I joined CAPSLO in 1978 and never in my 44 years have we received such a generous and impactful gift from a private donor,” Steinberg said in the statement. “We feel honored to be recognized for our work in the community. This gift will help us expand our work housing homeless families in San Luis Obispo County.”
Despite the praise and contribution CAPSLO is receiving from one of the world’s wealthiest people, the nonprofit previously garnered criticism for obtaining most of its funding through government grants and allocating a large portion of its expenditures to employee compensation. Likewise, members of the local homeless community complained in the past about being forced to fork over income they received through government benefits in order to be granted shelter access.