Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Housing first in Raleigh

The trip that a number of us from Orange County took to the CASA program in Raleigh this morning was informative and inspiring. CASA is a housing nonprofit in Wake County that offers "decent, safe and affordable housing" to "people who face the daily challenge of living with a mental, developmental, or substance abuse disorder." A good percentage of their clients come to them from a condition of chronic homelessness. Four or five years ago, after themselves being inspired at a conference by New York City's Pathways to Housing program, they decided to stand the "housing ready" model on its head and see what happened. Today, they have 18 apartments housing people who were homeless and disabled, with Wake County providing the supportive services.

CASA's office is on W. Jones Street, half a block from Raleigh's busy and continually upscaling Glenwood Avenue. You would never pick out its nearby housing stock, nestled in a mixed-use neighborhood among lawyers' and doctors' offices, as the homes of people who were lately on the streets, broken down alcoholics or substance abusers.

Mary Jean Seyda, assistant director of CASA, was in charge of our tour. We also heard from David Harris, director of housing services for Wake County. We in the Orange County 10-year planning process are lucky to have their example to follow.

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