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Local nonprofit helps families keep their homes

Hope Villages of America is giving people the opportunity to volunteer and use that time to cover some of their rent expense.

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It's been a very hard year. But through it, we've seen some good, and that's what this story is about. 

Moratoriums on evictions are ending and people are facing the possibility of losing their homes. But, there is a program to help. 

Hope Villages of America is working with Contemporary Housing Alternatives of Florida or CHAF to help people who are in this tough position. 

"Back on Track" allows CHAF renters the opportunity to volunteer and use that time to cover some of their rent expense.

20 people have participated in this program. They volunteer at the Hope Villages of America food bank and help sort and distribute food to families in need. 

150 hours of their time donated is the equivalent of four full-time employees for one week. 

President and CEO Kirk Ray Smith says it's amazing to see how these people are struggling, but they're helping others at the same time. He says when they gave people the opportunity, they wanted to feel like they're participating in their own help. 

"They were excited. They were glad they were no longer staying anywhere for free. They actually felt good about; it may only be 30 percent of our income, if they paid $100 a month, they felt like they were paying; earning their keep."

Hope Villages of America is a volunteer-driven organization. There are 80 employees and 2500 volunteers that are relied on to support 130,000 people throughout Pinellas County. 

This is the first time they've done this program. Smith says they're going to do this program as long as they can, but they'll need help. 

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