Partnership aims to benefit homeless

By Ret Boney

RALEIGH, N.C. — Local human-services agencies say they learned valuable lessons by caring for hundreds of evacuees in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Now, a new effort is enlisting the support of a cross-section of the community to apply those lessons to local homeless people and families.

Housed at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh, the Faith Community Support Circle effort is raising money from local governments, area congregations, businesses and individuals to benefit local individuals and families.

So far, the City of Raleigh has committed $100,000 for rental subsidies, and Wake County has given $58,000 to coordinate the effort.

The group hopes to raise another $150,000 from businesses and individuals in the community.

At a breakfast Sept. 14 hosted by the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, which publishes the Philanthropy Journal, the initiative raised $41,000 toward that goal, including $10,000 each from the foundation, Capitol Broadcasting Co., the Catholic Diocese and Baptist Grove Church.

“There was a time when no one worked together,” said Barbara Goodmon, president of the foundation, urging cross-sector partnership.  “That’s how we do the best work.”

The effort is based on a program that, in the aftermath of Katrina, organized 75 support circles from 44 congregations benefiting about 200 Katrina evacuees, says Ken Maness, who serves on the oversight team for the Raleigh/Wake 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness.

Dozens of faith-based and human services groups and nearly 1,000 volunteers participated in the program.

Beginning this fall, the program will help at least 50 Raleigh-area individuals and families each year by supplementing rent payments and pairing families with support groups from local faith-based and civic groups.

Support circles will assist families by providing services and resources such as furniture, transportation, and job-search and day-care assistance, with the goal of helping them become stable and self-sufficient within a 12 to 18-month period.

Families will be required to pay 30 percent of their income for rent and funds raised will be used to pay the remainder of rental expenses, says Rick Miller-Haraway, director of the Raleigh regional office of Catholic Charities.

To contribute to the effort, contact Stan Holt at Triangle United Way, which is serving as the fiscal agent for the effort.

For information about forming a support circle, contact Roberta Macauley, coordinator of the program.

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