"Imagine where they go from now. They have nothing. That’s it," said Michael Capponi, founder and president of Global Empowerment Mission.
Capponi has been meeting directly with displaced Champlain Towers residents, offering them basic necessities and visa gift cards.
Tuesday afternoon, the nonprofit distributed $180,000 in gift cards.
"Every person has different needs. You can’t figure out what clothes they’re going to wear. Everybody has different sizes and styles. Someone needs contact lenses, someone needs a new phone. So that’s why we have this cash card," said Capponi.
GEM, with the help of hotel and apartment sponsors, is placing families in temporary housing. Capponi said they’ve created a portfolio of over 100 units so far.
"Everybody in the next week or two are going to be given these temporary house solutions. One month to three months. Then we’re working on a longer plan which will be to get people with free one year leases," he said.
Seacoast Suites, a family-owned hotel and apartment building at 5101 Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, is already offering housing.
"We have committed to setting aside 50 units for them. Two bedroom two bathroom apartments. They have balconies, living rooms and kitchens. They’re fully furnished and the kitchens are fully equipped and the beds come with the linens, pillows, everything," said Melissa Meruelo, general manager of Seacoast Suites.
Meruelo said they’re offering one month free.
"We do have the flexibility of after the first month is over, we can offer month to month and we don’t need to lock anybody in to six months or one year. So they have the convenience of staying here as long as they want. Even if it’s a week or two weeks. They can extend it a week at a time or a month at a time," she said.
Capponi, who was once homeless, is now helping those who don’t have a place to call home.
"The beauty of understanding and having the ability to transmute a negative experience into a really positive experience because even this, even as tragic as it is, will make our community stronger and there will be blessings that come from this. Every lesson here just makes the human race more evolved," said Capponi.
Capponi said the families need money to help pay for transportation and living expenses. To donate - head to globalempowermentmission.org