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Durham group struggles to find affordable housing for homeless

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Volunteers help move Charissa Jones into her new home Volunteers help move Charissa Jones into her new home
DURHAM, N.C. -

Homelessness is a growing concern in Durham, up 8 percent since last year. A shortage of affordable housing is making it difficult for agencies to assist those in need.

"We're working really hard to find affordable housing. We're calling landlords every day," said Cynthia Harris, the Program Coordinator for Housing for New Hope.

"I have at least 30 to 45 calls a day from people looking for housing," she said.

Which means waiting lists and frustration.

The Housing for New Hope's Rapid Rehousing program helped move two homeless people into new apartments Thursday.

Charissa Jones and her 10-year-old daughter moved in Thursday. A domestic violence victim, Jones hasn't had a home since 2009.

Jones and her daughter Terrissa moved between living in hotels, with relatives, and in shelters  before ending up with Housing for New Hope.

"I just started working, so I was thinking I'd have to work at least 4 to 5 months to save money to move," Jones said.  "But it didn't happen like that. Rapid Rehousing just stepped right in and showed up.

Before she ever tuned the key in the lock of her new apartment, volunteers moved in all the household furnishings. All of the furniture was donated.

"They've paid everything I need to have paid," said Jones. "They've donated everything even down to the utensils."

Once a client like Charissa gets a to live, Housing for New Hope doesn't leave those folks to fend for themselves.

"We do a budget based on her dates and then we do ongoing case management," said Jones.

That way they can make sure that folks are not only meeting their bills, but saving a little too.

"I want to be able to save my money for a couple of years and eventually own my own home," said Jones.

She says if the Housing for New Hope program didn't exist, she couldn't have been able to make it this far.

"I've tried it alone and it doesn't work," she said.

Steve Sbraccia

Steve is an award-winning reporter for WNCN and former assistant professor. A seasoned professional, Steve is proud to call the Triangle home since 2005 after over two decades in Boston, Mass.  More>>

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