The ORRA Board of Directors has voted to provide up to $25,000 to the Orlando Regional REALTOR® Foundation in support of efforts to assist survivors of the Pulse nightclub tragedy with their housing-related challenges. The funds will back relief initiatives such as those coordinated by ORRA member Christian West-Howard, Capital Homes Inc.
“I am awed and humbled by Christian’s take-charge response to this tragic event that has impacted our entire community, and proud to call him a fellow REALTOR® and ORRA member,” says ORRA President John Lazenby. “The entire ORRA Board of Directors is pleased to become a part of an Orlando REALTOR’S® resolve to help with the housing needs of those in our community who are enduring such unimaginable challenges.”
The ORRA Community Relations Committee is charged with developing criteria for supported relief initiatives, while the Orlando Regional REALTOR® Foundation (formerly the Florida Real Estate Foundation) will oversee the funding process and help manage the projects on a day-to-day basis.
“The ORRA Community Relations Committee evaluates funding requests for volunteer and nonprofit service programs that align with ORRA’s mission,” explains committee chairman Cathy Marino, Cathy S. Marino Realty, Inc. “Christian’s projects dovetail perfectly by addressing both housing and quality of life for Orlando residents; it’s an ideal fit for our association’s involvement.”
The money contributed by ORRA will be used on items such as:
- Assisting with rent or mortgage payments for those who are now unable to work;
- Finding homes for families that are moving to Orlando to care for loved ones;
- Relocating survivors who rent but now need ADA and accessibility features and providing moving services; and
- Retrofitting wheelchair-bound victims’ own homes with assistance equipment.
West-Howard’s immediate efforts to assist victims by offering the use of his rental properties to their out-of-area families garnered the attention of ORRA, NAR, and beyond (to the tune of more than 44,000 social media views and shares!) He also contacted area hotels asking for rooms to be donated; in short order more than 250 family members were placed in accommodations at no charge.
In addition, Christian arranged the donation of translation and legal services, meals, rental cars, and gas cards plus funeral services, caskets, flowers, singers, and even suits for funeral-goers.
“I’m grateful that my REALTOR® organization has stepped up for the community, and I believe ORRA’s involvement will make a real difference to the survivors,” says West-Howard. “I am certain that ORRA’s response will be an example for other REALTOR® organizations in times of future crises.”
“As the media stories decline and life goes on, we must remember that many are facing a lifetime of change," continues West-Howard. “ORRA will be recognized and appreciated as survivors’ advocates for the long haul.”