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Homeless plan

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Leaders vow to end homelessness in Raleigh and Wake in 10 years.

By Ret Boney

RALEIGH, N.C. — Leaders in Raleigh and Wake County have committed to end homelessness within a decade and announced a $2.7 million federal grant for fighting homelessness.

The city council and county commissioners signed a resolution Feb. 23 to accept a plan developed by a local partnership that includes the City of Raleigh, Wake County, Triangle United Way and Wake Continuum of Care, a group of local human services agencies.
Called “Ending Homelessness: The 10-year Action Plan,” the plan outlines five objectives, with accompanying action steps and milestones, for eradicating homelessness in the area.

“The status-quo of homelessness just isn’t good enough for this community,” said Philip Mangano, head of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.  “We want all people in Wake County and Raleigh to be called by one name – neighbor.”

The plan was developed over the past year with input from more than 400 individuals, including homeless people, and a cross-section of the local community, including city and county agencies, law enforcement, charities, religious groups, academia and the business sector.

Local leaders also announced a $2.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to address homelessness, primarily among youth and people with mental illnesses and addictions.

The plan calls for coordinating strategies among all agencies and groups serving the homeless, with the overall goal of changing the service-delivery system from “one that manages homelessness to one that prevents and ends homelessness,” the plan says.

In the area of prevention, the plan includes strategies such as changing how people are discharged from government programs like jails, mental hospitals and foster care, and working with public schools to identify those at risk of homelessness and educate all students about the issue.

Central to the plan is increasing the availability of affordable housing in the area, in part by increasing the state’s Housing Trust Fund from about $3 million to $50 million a year to build more affordable homes and provide more rental subsidies, and by adopting a Housing First model that provides permanent housing for the homeless, coupled with support services.

Other plan objectives include expanding outreach and engagement services, creating more opportunities for education and job training, and enhancing support services to help the homeless become independent.

“We have a framework to move ahead,” says Raleigh Mayor Charles Meeker.  “Most of the work is ahead of us.  We need to develop steps to achieve our goals.”

While the plan does not include costs for carrying it out, Meeker says some existing resources will be redirected as part of the effort, while additional local, state and federal funds may be needed.

To begin putting the plan into effect, working teams centered around the its five objectives will meet each Tuesday in March at 6:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church on Salisbury Street in Raleigh.

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