Pathlight HOME was incorporated as Grand Avenue Economic Community Development Corp. in 1992. It was the dream of Reverend Fred Maxwell. Maxwell was pastor of St. John’s Missionary Baptist Church in Orlando for 37 years, a Civil Rights leader and ardent advocate for those who were struggling in his community— especially the homeless community. He worked tirelessly until his death at 98 years of age to bring justice and compassion to Orlando.
His dream and longtime homeless advocate Helaine Blum seemed to be on a collision course. Blum, an attorney and lifelong Central Floridian, encountered Maxwell through a newspaper article and immediately tracked him down. Maxwell’s dream captured Blum’s attention. She told him, “You do the praying and I’ll do the writing.” Grand Ave. Economic Community Development Corp., now operating under the trade name Pathlight HOME, had a humble start and big dreams.
An initial 75-unit motel building was purchased and remodeled near Colonial Drive and John Young Parkway. This was the State of Florida’s original “Housing First” project. Maxwell instinctively believed in Housing-First, long before it was adopted by communities around North America as the critical innovation needed to truly end homelessness. Since Maxwell’s 2005 passing, Pathlight HOME has become Central Florida’s largest provider of permanent supportive housing for homeless adults. Today, over 600 residents receive safe and dignified housing as they interact with a compassionate team providing services, in particular for those who are chronically homeless.