Local News

Opening Up Home To Katrina Evacuees Comes With Risk, Officials Say

Posted September 8, 2005 7:45 a.m. EDT

— Lynn Burke lives in a one-bedroom apartment in Raleigh.

"It's not a lot, but it's home," she said.

And Burke, like dozens of people in the Triangle, is willing to share that home with someone who lost everything because of Hurricane Katrina.

"When I watched all that on television, I saw my own face," she said. "I saw my family's faces."

As good as her intentions, Wake County housing officials said Burke and other people like her should consider several things before they open up their homes to people they do not know.

"It's the type of thing that has to be thought of because of liability issues," Wake County Human Services' Robert Garrison said.

If you offer to share your home, Garrison said, you should first verify that the person is actually a Katrina evacuee.

Shelters would have this information; the information can also be found on the Internet.

Officials also suggest you conduct a criminal background check. And even though people may be staying in your home for free, housing officials suggest that the guests sign a lease.

"So that the person staying in the unit has a clear understanding of what the homeowner expects of them," Garrison said.

Burke said she would consider Garrison's advice.

"I would and not for myself, but to give these people a sense of normalcy," she said. "Also, because they don't want hand outs, they want hand ups; and they've got to have a little bit of the pride handed back to them."

If you are interested in sharing housing, please contact the Wake County Supportive Housing Team at (919)-212-9595.