Wilmington City Council to vote on program pairing social workers with police officers to help homeless people

Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 10:50 AM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington are working to start a pilot program to help connect homeless people with the resources they need. The Board of Commissioners approved the program at their meeting on Monday, September 19, but it still needs approval from the Wilmington City Council on Tuesday.

Per a county release, the “Getting Home” Street Outreach Program is built on pairs comprised of social workers with the NHC Health and Human Services Department and officers with the Wilmington Police Department.

“We understand that there are oftentimes impediments to a person being able to find their way out of homelessness like a lack of employment, mental health or substance use disorders, a lack of available affordable housing, and other barriers,” said HHS Director Donna Fayko in the release.

The county plans to hire four social workers and a supervisor with American Rescue Plan funding: $460,563 for the first 9 months and $1.2 million through the end of 2024. Given it is approved by the city as well, the program is scheduled to start on October 1 and to be at full staffing by November. It would run until at least the end of 2024 and be regularly evaluated and adjusted. They also plan to work with local nonprofits and Wilmington Downtown Inc.’s Block By Block homeless advocate.

“. . .[W]e know that each person’s needs are different and should be treated as such. So by partnering together to provide wrap-around support services and case management for those in a housing crisis, we are hoping to make an impact on homelessness in our area and on the quality of life for the individuals who need our help most,” said Fayko.

This proposal is in line with some of the recommendations made in WDI’s outreach assessment last year.