Local News

Durham homeless organizations ramp up efforts to help unsheltered people find permanent homes

Posted June 9, 2020 6:29 p.m. EDT
Updated June 9, 2020 6:39 p.m. EDT

— Providing safe and affordable housing for families and individuals in Durham has become a large effort.

In the early part of the year, hundreds of Mcdougald Terrace residents were displaced.Then came the coronavirus pandemic, pushing people out of work, eating into savings and exposing more housing instability in the area.

Some local organizations are working to change that.

A Durham woman who lived at the Families Moving Forward shelter said she’s an example of how homelessness can truly touch anyone.

“We were generous with our time, generous with our energy and generous with our heart and even our monies," said Tiffany Solomon. "And then we reached a point where we were the ones who needed something."

She and her family of five realized this gradually, after her youngest son was born with developmental disabilities.

“We had to start making choices and decisions because we had health care expenses, then we had to figure out if we were going to work on his development,” she said.

It was a balancing act between bills for them. About 15 hotels later, Solomon failed to find affordable housing anywhere.

“It was either affordable, but not safe or safe, but not affordable, or out of our reach all together. We searched and searched,” she said.

Then she was introduced to Housing for New Hope. She and her family now have a permanent home.

The organization has been able to expand its street outreach with new funding from the city and county of Durham.

“Even with all the capacity that are at hotels, we are seeing a significant surge, as a system, in terms of the waitlist. Nearly 100 families are waiting and 200 to 300 individuals that are waiting,” said Russell Peirce, executive director of Housing for New Hope.

He says job losses due to coronavirus have hit the most vulnerable in the community.

“When you have something where so many people lose their jobs, those that were barely hanging on, they can lose their grasp really quickly. Now, we’re worrying to see what will happen when the eviction holds are lifted,” he added.

Russell expects that surge in numbers for their program’s waiting list to triple within the next 30 days.

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