Local News

Katrina Evacuees In Raleigh Help Raise Awareness Of Homelessness

Posted September 22, 2005

— When it came to finding housing for evacuees of Hurricane Katrina, the

Wake County Hurricane Disaster Victim Center

in Raleigh recorded close to 100 success stories in just two weeks.

Related Resource:

How To Help Katrina Victims

David and Marie Ray are among those success stories.

"With so many people wanting to help you start over and the love they have shown, it's wonderful," Marie Ray said.

But an estimated 2 million North Carolinians already had housing problems, such as finding a decent place to live and being able to afford it, long before the hurricane hit the Gulf Coast. And, officials said, this has led to a humanitarian dilemma.

"I's frustrating," said Denise Neunaber, of the N.C. Homeless Coalition, an organization that helps people find affordable housing.

Neunaber said she, like many nonprofit workers, wonders where these resources were before Katrina. Still, she said, she is grateful for the response now.

"It is frustrating to see the response, but it's also hopeful because we now see there are resources that we have," she said.

When it comes to resources, Katrina evacuees get priority over residents already in need of housing, Wake County officials said. The evacuation center is still looking for housing for 29 families. The workers expect to match those families with suitable homes before the center closes on Friday, officials said.

Wake County, though, has a plan to help others once the center closes.

"There are still people on the streets of Raleigh, and we want to make sure after all these folks are placed, we go back and help our indigenous folks," David Harris, of Wake County Human Services, said.

The hope is that the $3.5 billion in new housing vouchers President George W. Bush recently approved will help local people and families, many of whom have been on waiting lists for affordable housing for at least five years, Harris said.

Photographer

Tom Normanly

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