By Todd Cohen
BURLINGTON, N.C. — Individuals and families in Alamance County at risk of homelessness are getting affordable housing, rental assistance and support services, thanks to a partnership among Allied Churches of Alamance County, United Way of Alamance County, and DeBoer & Gabriel Properties in Burlington.
Allied Churches, which operates a 102-bed emergency shelter that provides stays of 30 days to 90 days for homeless men, women and children, also subsidizes rent for eligible homeless people through a federally funded “Rapid Re-Housing Program.”
That program aims to provide safe, stable housing and case management for clients after they leave the shelter, including case management and, for the first four months, a rent subsidy.
To expand that program, DeBoer & Gabriel Properties has agreed to keep monthly rent stable and not increase it for as long as Rapid ReHousing clients have a lease.
Allied Churches will provide federal funding for four months to cover the fair market rent for each client until they establish themselves as tenants. After that, the clients are responsible for those costs.
And United Way will provide up to $20,000 a year to help cover the gap between the federal Rapid ReHousing dollars and the monthly rent.
Forty-eight percent of renters in Alamance County were not able to afford the fair-market rent for a two-bedroom housing unit, according to 2013 data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
“We recognize that there is not enough available affordable housing, particularly near the jobs where people are working,” says Heidi Norwick, United Way president. “Without a public transportation system currently in our community, that’s even more important.”
To provide people in need with an affordable way to get to work or school or to appointments for health and human services, United Way recently announced it would give $100,000 to support the new public bus system the City of Burlington expects to launch in the spring of 2016.
A key goal of the new housing partnership is to help people living in emergency housing get “started and settled,” Norwick says. “After that, they are the tenants, and they will also take classes on financial counseling and how to be a good tenant.”
Allied Churches will provide those classes, she says, and United Way will provide its rent subsidies “as long as the tenant remains in good standing.”