Philanthropy in Action: JFCS of Southwest Florida

Grant supports high risk senior women in crisis


  • Women live longer and earn less. Historically, women have been more likely to be poor than men. Poverty rates for unmarried female householders with children are particularly high, and have consistently been two or three times as high as overall male and female poverty rates since 1966.
  •  In COLLIER COUNTY, the senior population over age 65 is 28% compared to 14% in the US.
  • 21% of all seniors live alone. There are 12,769 women that live alone compared to 5851 men. For senior women living alone, the Average Social security monthly income in Collier County is $1286.00. According to the ALICE report, minimum income to survive in Collier County is $1,815.00* per month. (ALICE, an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, are households that earn more than the U.S. poverty level, but less than the basic cost of living for the county.)
  • Even though homelessness has declined in FL by 37% since 2011 it has literally stayed the same in Collier County during that same time. The number of homeless senior women has also increased. Each month JFCS receives one to three calls from senior women who are either evicted from their homes or are about to be evicted. The most common reason is the landlord’s ability to charge a higher rent than the senior living there on a fixed income can afford to pay. Once evicted it is common for the women to stay at a hotel until their money is depleted, then they will start living in their cars. These women are panicked and not sure what to do or where to turn.

How Women’s Foundation philanthropy is making a difference

WFCC awarded JFCS of Southwest Florida $25,000 to support a program which helps in a dignified, tangible manner a small group of high risk seniors in crisis. Most are widowed or divorced and have spent most of their life as “middle class”.  Some are estranged from their children. They tend to be isolated since their friends have either died, are living in nursing homes or moved from the community leaving them with no one to ask for assistance.  These women need money for rent and security deposits, and equally as important they need assistance finding a safe place to live. They also need to be treated with dignity.

JFCS case management staff will meet in person with each woman who calls the agency. The individual’s circumstances will be accessed and a care plan will be developed which will address both the immediate crisis of having the client be in a safe place combined with finding her permanent affordable housing. The case management team will network with other community agencies for possible shelter and other community resources. (Unfortunately in Collier County there is limited space at the shelters and generally space is not available to these women.)   If they are living in their cars JFCS will purchase a fitness membership with Collier Parks and Recreation in order for the women to be able to have a safe place to shower.

Staff will work with the women teaching them how to search for housing leads through a variety of sources. Free access to the internet will be provided at the Naples Senior Center.  Depending on the client’s needs JFCS may provide funding for short term hotel stays, showers, security deposits, first month’s rent, utility assistance, short-term rental subsidy and food pantry. In a year this program will assist 21 senior women. The cost per client will be $2,543 .

If you’d like to help make a difference in the lives of women and girls in Collier County, please consider a charitable gift to the Women’s Foundation of Collier County. To learn more about how you can help, please contact us.