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What’s the status of Wilmington’s 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness?

Jim Ware

Q: “We are approaching the five year mark (May 2013)of The City of Wilmington unveiling a 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness; what is the status of this initiative? Is the city committing resources to see this plan through? How does this initiative fit in with current agenda issues (e.g. various down town amenities)?”

And the answer by Dan Ferrell, strategic director of the United Way of the Cape Fear Area:

By every indication, the 10-Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness has had a highly positive impact on the our community. The number of chronically homeless (disabled) people identified in the annual “Point-in-Time” counts was reduced from 211 in 2007 to 43 in January 2012. Several projects managed by the 10-Year Plan and its host agency – United Way of the Cape Fear Area – are directly contributing factors.

The cornerstone project for ending chronic homelessness is the SOAR Caseworker Project, which created a full-time caseworker to represent chronically homeless people in their applications for Social Security, SSI and Medicaid. Since established in 2010, the SOAR caseworker has obtained difficult-to-achieve disability claims allowances for 108 clients. Altogether, those awards have yielded almost $2 million in mainstream benefits that chronically homeless clients can use to acquire housing and pay for utilities, food, clothing and medical care. And because of the efforts of the SOAR Project, those 108 clients currently receive more than $76,000 each month in benefits. In addition, Medicaid entitlements obtained through the SOAR Project have generated more than $265,000 in indigent care reimbursement to New Hanover Regional Medical Center, prompting the medical center to underwrite the operating expenses of the caseworker.

The 10-Year Plan also pulled down almost $1.3 million in federal stimulus funding from 2009-2012 which prevented homelessness and/or re-housed more than 500 people in 227 Cape Fear-area low-income rental households during the period now known as the “Great Recession.” That success was achieved through a 10-Year Plan partnership with Good Shepherd Center, The Salvation Army, Pender County Housing, Brunswick Family Assistance and First Call for Help.

The 10-Year Plan’s Circles of Support mentoring project has also created a 60-volunteer network of supportive services for 19 previously homeless households that allows them to sustain themselves in housing. On top of all that, the 10 Year Plan has also led community efforts to create a homeless respite care program to provide a network of recuperative care for sick and injured homeless people. It has also developed and manages a donation meter program in the Downtown Wilmington to discourage panhandling.

Most recently, the 10-Year Plan obtained more than $100,000 in new HUD funding for a Rapid Re-housing program for extremely low-incomes homeless people. Those dollars will soon be available through a 10-Year Plan partnership with the Good Shepherd Center.

Time frames for every 10-Year Plan in the nation were reset in 2010 by the new federal strategic plan to address homelessness, Opening Doors. The most immediate goal of Opening Doors is ending both chronic homelessness and veterans homelessness by June 30, 2015.

10-Year Plan administrative activities continue to be funded by coordinated efforts of the City of Wilmington, United Way of the Cape Fear Area and New Hanover County.

User-contributed question by:
Kevin Novak

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