9 Family: Seminole County pitching in money to help the homeless

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Sanford's largest non-profit organization is getting more than $1 million to combat homelessness in Seminole County.

Harvest Time International will be in charge of implementing a new homeless prevention plan, and will use some tax dollars to do it.

On almost any day the aisles of Harvest Time International's store of discounted groceries is filled with people who need a little bit of help.

Ulysses Cunningham is one of those shoppers on a limited income.

"Anytime you can save something in food and value, that money is very important to anybody," said Cunningham.

Soon Harvest Time will also be helping homeless families.

Seminole County plans to give $1.4 million in county tax funds to the group, to combat growing homelessness. 

The money will pay for case workers and rent or utility assistance for families who are either homeless or on the verge of losing their homes.

"When we think about homelessness we don't think about the parents of 1,500 kids in Seminole County who sleep in a motel, sleep in a van, who sleep doubled up with family or in other situations," said Andre Smolinsky with Harvest Time International.

It is the largest amount of money the county has set aside to help homeless families.

Families who receive the help will be required to prove the taxpayer investment is paying off.

They'll go through a rigorous screening process and will have monthly in-home visits.

Officials said there is enough money to help about 150 families.

For those families, it could be the help they need to get back on their feet.
       
"Of course, they need it. They need it and actually all the help they can get," said Cunningham.    

The county's Board of Commissioners is expected to approve the partnership with Harvest Time International next week.

The new program is scheduled to start in January.