Addressing Homelessness for a Vulnerable Population
A simple mission
For Bernard, CASA has changed the course of his life. When he arrived at Raleigh’s South Wilmington Street Center (an emergency housing shelter) in 2013, he was homeless and had no job prospects. He worried that he would not be able to get back on his feet. Then, he was referred to CASA as an applicant for their landscape crew. Bernard’s life started changing course. He got the job, applied for CASA housing, patiently sat on their waiting list. After working for CASA for several months, there was an apartment available for him and an opportunity for a fresh start.
Community Alternatives for Supportive Abodes (CASA) was established in 1992 to provide stable, affordable housing in North Carolina’s Triangle area for a particularly at-risk low-income population, those with disabilities. CASA either models existing buildings or builds new properties, and then manages high-quality apartments as affordable housing. Tenants pay 30% of their income for rent, regardless of amount.
Applicants must apply with a ‘Supportive Housing Referral’ — an individual or agency who can provide support during the stressful transition of homelessness to housing. CASA believes that tenants improve their odds of staying in housing with the right support, and their data proves it with 88% of their tenants maintaining their housing after one year.
A focus on stability
Additionally, CASA offers something that many affordable housing landlords do not – the opportunity to renew leases. Because CASA permits lease recertification with no time limit, tenants don’t face a return to homelessness. And for many tenants that stability is a needed blessing, giving them time to work on building up savings, paying debts, improving their health, and maintaining consistent employment.
But thousands in Wake County aren’t as lucky. According to the 2014 Point-In-Time Count, there are at least 2,000 people who are homeless in the Triangle. And even those who find affordable housing face other obstacles including limited lease terms and location concerns. CASA prides itself on offering strategically located apartments in Durham, Wake, and Orange counties that afford safe access to local transportation, healthcare, and employment.
CASA’s focus on quality and consistency attracts high interest from the community. Currently, CASA manages over 350 affordable units in the Triangle region. Their waitlist proves both demand and interest with over 1,000 waiting.
Their newest addition, Hull’s Landing, opened in April 2015. Offered strictly as veteran housing, the 20 units provide nearby bus line services and a VA Outpatient Clinic. In 2015-2016, CASA plans to complete another 22 veteran apartments and is actively searching for additional opportunities to build or remodel more supportive housing in the Triangle.
A life with dignity
More than a year after he arrived at CASA, Bernard continues to work as a member of the landscape crew and helps to maintain the grounds of CASA communities across Wake County. Life is much different than it used to be. He enjoys his work and the peacefulness of the quiet, cool apartment that he returns to at the end of each day. The dignity and security that CASA’s affordable housing brings to his life enables him to give back and contribute to the vitality of his community.
To find out how you can help CASA, both through financial and volunteer support, please visit their website at www.casanc.org.