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May 06
Wake County Announces Strategic Housing Plan To Help Minimize Effects Of COVID-19

Wake County is announcing the creation of House Wake!, a strategic plan to help minimize the effects of COVID-19 on county residents who are currently homeless or on the brink of homelessness.

This six-to-eight-month plan earned unanimous support by the Wake County Board of Commissioners on Monday, May 4, and is now being implemented by the County’s Housing Affordability and Community Revitalization Department.

“This plan will provide critical support to residents who have lost their jobs as a result of the COVID-19 crisis and can no longer afford to pay rent or their mortgage,” said Board Chairman Greg Ford. “I want to thank Commissioner Jessica Holmes for her leadership on this effort to keep our vulnerable residents housed and healthy.”

 The plan is focused in the near-term on two main areas:

  • Stabilizing the housing situations of as many people teetering on the edge of homelessness as possible; and
     
  • Housing individuals and families who are currently unsheltered and at a greater risk of contracting COVID-19.

To do this, Wake County will use policy tools and funding sources recently made available to help fight the spread of COVID-19. The House Wake! plan will utilize federal, state and local funding to move the maximum number of people possible into stable housing situations before the end of the calendar year.

 “It’s impossible to abide by a stay-at-home order if you don’t have a home,” said Commissioner Jessica Holmes. “This plan enables us to do what’s right for the public health and our local economy at the same time.”

Since March 15, North Carolina has received more than 900,000 unemployment claims. The high rate of unemployment across the state is a warning of the coming wave of evictions and foreclosures. The first step in the House Wake! plan is to address this anticipated need.

The programs proposed in the plan will focus on addressing the first wave of housing insecurity. Wake County will develop additional housing programs and policies for future waves by working closely with community partners.

“There is an opportunity in this catastrophe,” said Lorena McDowell, Wake County Housing Affordability and Community Revitalization director. “By being smart, bold and brave, we can address the gaps that already existed in our system and help those who have been impacted by COVID-19’s strain on our community.”

 House Wake! consists of seven major components:

  • Healthy Hotels Initiative
  • Homelessness Prevention Expansion
  • Rapid Rehousing Permanent Placement Program
  • Housing Navigation and Landlord Engagement Program
  • Oak City Cares Hygiene Program
  • Housing Services Enhancement Program
  • Shelter and Street Outreach Enhancement Program

Wake County worked hard to ensure community input was considered in the development of this plan. The county engaged in many individual and group conversations with housing service providers, community advocates and faith leaders. The public submitted more than 750 comments in support of this plan – the highest number of public comments received during a board meeting.

The county will continue engaging with the community as the project continues.

More information on this plan can be found here.


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