Local agency helps Housing Authority assist residents

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Halifax Urban Ministries Executive Director Buck James, left, directed volunteers packing grocery bags at the Ocean Center on May 18.
DAYTONA TIMES/ CHARLES W. CHERRY II

BY ANDREAS BUTLER
DAYTONA TIMES

The Housing Authority of the City of Daytona Beach Housing Authority (HACDB) is trying to help its residents during the coronavirus pandemic. Food was a critical need.

“We did a survey which resulted in people needing supplies and food. Food is a challenge because of COVID-19. People have lost their jobs and aren’t making enough money. They are depending upon food pantries more than normal,” commented Terrill Bates, HACDB’s CEO.

When Zone Three City Commissioner Quanita May found out about the need, she went to work. She had previously raised concerns about food at prior city commission meetings. The Housing Authority’s Windsor and Maley housing developments are in her zone.

“I thought about asking the City Commission to subsidize purchasing food from local or other Florida-based farmers,” she said. “Then I found out from Donna DeMarsh-Butler, Volusia County’s director of community services, that the county had already allocated hundreds of thousands of dollars to purchase food. They just needed a local organization
to buy it, and volunteer labor to distribute it.”

Making the connection

May connected HACDB with Halifax Urban Ministries (HUM), and a public-private partnership providing free food assistance for Housing Authority residents was born.

On Monday, food was distributed for the second consecutive week by Housing Authority employees to residents in the Palmetto Park, Caroline Village, Northwood Village, Northwood Village II, Walnut Oak, Windsor and Maley housing developments. Many of these developments sit in the Midtown community, which is the heart of Daytona’s Black community.

“We’ve been helping our residents as much as we possibly can. We have helped with cleaning supplies, protective gear and now food. It is important that we as human beings recognize the need to help each other in our communities, especially in this pandemic which affects our entire community. Human beings should always be supportive of each other,” Bates said.

Glad to do it

Halifax Urban Ministries is glad to step in. The charitable organization is seeing an increased need for food aid during the coronavirus crises.

“Ever since the COVID-19 crisis started, there has been an explosion of need in the area particularly with food. So many people lost their jobs or had their hours cut back at work. We have been dramatically expanding the amount of food we are distributing in the community. In the next three weeks, we look to ramp up to three times our normal distribution of food,” explained Buck James, HUM’s executive director.

The goal is to provide 600 bags a week for 16 weeks to HACDB residents. Monday was the second week of the effort at the Ocean Center. A designated day and another place to bag and distribute food is pending.

Continuous effort

“We are looking to respond to the need wherever we find it. Our goal is to do this over this time period. It is dependent upon the help that we get,” said James.

Bates echoed, “We hope to be able to fulfill the need. It will go on as long as planned as long as the supply is available. We don’t have set days yet; we’re still hammering out the details.”

The food was bagged on Monday at the Ocean Center by HUM employees, volunteers from churches such as Our Lady of Lourdes, First United Methodist and others, other volunteers in the community and HACDB employees. The week before, the men of the local chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., donated their time and labor.

Giving back

On Monday, Brittany Parks, a Housing Authority resident, was one of those who pitched in.

Parks told the Daytona Times, “I wanted to give back in some capacity. I’ve been on the receiving end. I know how much it helped me. Why not help others?”

Food items distributed included apples, oranges, pasta, pasta sauce, canned tuna, canned chicken, canned chicken, Vienna sausages and other canned goods; bread, peanut butter, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, cereal and paper towels.

‘A good mixture’

“It’s a good mixture of items to help people at home have some good food in their pantries. We are still working on getting all the sourcing for the various items to put together the best bags for individuals and families or households,” stated James.

The food came from Volusia County funding, Second Harvest Food Bank, donations received by HUM and other donations.

The Housing Authority plans to provide more assistance to its tenants.

Bates noted, “We’re working on ways to make sure our residents have the technology they need, especially in regard to the current at-home schooling. Many of our residents don’t have computer access or access to the internet. We are working on providing that for them.”

Those wishing to volunteer or donate should contact Halifax Urban Ministries at (386) 317-5886.

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