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Orlando men’s homeless shelter reopens dorms and programs damaged by fire

The Coalition for the Homeless men's shelter in Orlando is reopening two of three dorms damaged by a fire in February.
Lillian Hernández Caraballo
The Coalition for the Homeless men's shelter in Orlando is reopening two of three dorms damaged by a fire in February.

The Coalition for the Homeless men’s shelter in Orlando has reopened its doors, after a fire that displaced more than 200 individuals and paralyzed operations last month.

This week, nearly 150 men were able to move back into two of the three dorms that were damaged in the February fire. The organization’s commercial kitchen, which feeds hundreds of men, women, children, and families every day, was also badly damaged and has yet to reopen.

However, the community came together for the nonprofit after the devastating incident. Director of Development Trinette Nation said displaced individuals and families living in poverty didn’t have to go a day without food or shelter, thanks to that support.

“There are so many organizations in the area that really stepped up, realized the need, and came to our aid,” she said. “We have an amazing community, we really do. It's humbling for our organization to know that they believe in what we do here.”

Nation said that, on Tuesday, the Coalition was also able to reopen their Community Health Initiative program, which provides access to laundry, mail services, and showers — all of which had been on pause since the fire.

“Those are crucial services that the Coalition does provide, and I'm so happy we're able to open those back up. Because it's something that's desperately needed in this community with the increase in individuals and families struggling with homelessness,” she said.

According to Nation, it will be at least another four weeks before the Coalition can reopen the building’s commercial kitchen, as well as the 90-man dorm where the fire originated. That third dorm is still in need of more intense repairs, she said.

“We've been trying to be very flexible with our timelines, but we need to really get our doors back open because of the need here in our community,” Nation said.

People interested in donating, volunteering, or learning more can visit the Coalition’s website.

Lillian Hernández Caraballo is a Report for America corps member. 

Lillian (Lilly) Hernández Caraballo is a bilingual, multimedia journalist covering housing and homelessness for Central Florida Public Media, as a Report for America corps member.
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