The homeless have been made particularly vulnerable by COVID-19, and a shifting schematic of housing policies and resources has made it difficult to find up-to-date help.
With this in mind, Wake County and the Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness have announced the launch of a one-stop housing emergency hotline that will connect callers with housing resources and help for urgent needs. House Wake! Access Hub is offering assistance at 919-443-0096 and by email (HW_AH@partnershipwake.org).
At the onset of the pandemic, researchers predicted that 1,700 of an estimated 568,000 homeless people nationwide would be at risk of dying from the virus.
While that number has been difficult to track—the Department of Housing and Urban Development does not have centralized statistics on infections and deaths among homeless populations—experts agree that these folks have been affected by COVID-19 at disproportionate rates and that those rates will continue to spike.
A new CDC eviction moratorium, which went into effect on September 4 and extends through the end of the year, buys residents some time. However, tenants will still owe cumulative months-long rent in January, and many are still at risk of eviction through other loopholes. Many experts fear that the looming eviction crisis will spiral into a homelessness public health crisis.
In early July, the Wake County Board of Commissioners voted to allocate an additional $1.7 million in federal CARES Act funds toward eviction prevention and to meet the housing needs of low-income families. The fund was part of the county’s phase two House Wake! strategic plan.
“We focus on recognizing the unique needs of every individual we serve,” Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness Executive Director Kim Crawford said in a press release. “Instead of worrying about who to call, residents can now feel confident that this first step will be the right one to connect them with available resources. Help is just one phone call away.”
The House Wake! switchboard will be staffed by five full-time staff during business hours during the weekday. When the INDY called the hotline, the queue was four people deep, and the estimated wait time was less than 5 minutes.
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