United Way of the Cape Fear receives federal grant to help homeless

Reported by Gavin Johnson - bio|email
Posted by Debra Worley - email

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The United Way of the Cape Fear has received a federal grant worth $1.2 million to help provide rent and utility funding to families that are already homeless or at risk of losing their homes in Brunswick, Pender, and New Hanover Counties.

The funds from the American Recovery and Re-Investment Act will keep more families from losing their homes.

"If somebody's in a rental situation and they're facing an eviction situation, because of back pay," said United Way of the Cape Fear President Chris Nelson.  "Whatever it is, we'll be able to help that family out, and they'll be bale to maintain their home."

The grant will also help other families recover from their homeless situation.

"Other people who have lost their homes - it can help with rapid housing, establish credit and get them back in housing," said Nelson.

Brunswick County will receive a little more than $386,000; New Hanover will receive a little more than $653,000, and Pender County will get close to $166,000.

It's estimated that on any given night, New Hanover County alone can have at least 500 people staying in shelters.

Executive Director of the Good Shepherd Center, Katrina Knight, said the grant will bring some needed relief.

"Even for a very high demand shelter, 50 new people a month is a very high number for us, and quite a few of those could not hold on to their house," said Knight.

Knight said the grant will also allow workers to follow people who leave the shelter, which is important with their recovery.

"So that if they begin to run into some other situation and they can't afford childcare or they begin to fall into hard times, somebody professional is there to help them," said Knight.

The grant money won't be available until the first week of October, but through the United Way, it will go to agencies and programs aimed at lowering the homeless population.

©2009 WECT. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.