WILSON — The transition from welfare to work can be a difficult one. Add to that the search for an affordable place to live, and it gets even tougher.
Governor Jim Hunthas a new plan to help low income families find a place to live, receive job training and get the health care they need.
Hunt says $34 million in federal grant money and state tax credits can help thousands of families stay off of welfare.
"We're going to do it through existing funds that we have coming into our state for community development block grant, also to do more to help them get good jobs," says Hunt.
The Next Steps Plan addresses three issues: affordable housing, job training and health care.
Hunt made the announcement Monday morning in an east Wilson neighborhood that was created a few years ago specifically for low income families.
The plan will create hundreds of new rental properties and also help some families buy their own homes.
Carolyn Summerlin told the Hunt her story of being on welfare for two years after being injured on the job. She used her disability to buy her home. She says there is nothing like being independent.
"It's a blessing to me, but because you know you're paying for your own," says Summerlin. "When you're buying it, it's yours one day."
Governor Hunt says now is the time to put this plan in place. There is no guarantee how long the project will last, but Hunt says the program can be put into place without raising state taxes.
Since 1995, 69,000 people in North Carolina have come off the welfare rolls. With the state'sWork Firstprogram in place, many more are expected to follow.
Experts say the investment now will save taxpayers money in the long run by reducing the number of people who return to the welfare safety net.