As many as 5,000 people in Wake County experience homelessness each year, and currently, no single place exists where they can access all the resources they may need. Today marked a milestone in Raleigh’s innovative approach to end homelessness as ground was broken on the Oak City Cares facility.
“Oak City Cares is a collaborative, community, approach bringing together government, nonprofits, the faith and business communities to make homelessness in Wake County brief, temporary and non-recurring,” said Lisa Perkins, Executive Director, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh.
“There is nothing more disheartening for a homeless person or family than to have to tell their story over and over and over again,” said Wake County Manager, David Ellis. “This facility is designed so that homeless people can tell their story one time to then get the help and care and services they need to move them away from homelessness.”
In addition to continuing the weekend meal distribution currently in place at the Oak City Outreach Center, which, since June 2014, has served more than 300,000 much-needed meals to adults, families and the elderly, Oak City Cares will offer convenient access to a range of homeless services. Coordinated through a single assessment of client needs, the center will reduce the length of time people are homeless by helping them find permanent housing, secure medical care, receive employment training and get back on their feet.
“Oak City Cares will also provide a roof for their hearts, to help them find the dignity they have as a human person,” said Bishop Luis Rafael Zarama, bishop of the Diocese of Raleigh. “And when that job is done, the other things are possible.”
Wake County and the City of Raleigh have been key supporters of creating this opportunity, especially in locating and re-purposing the Wilmington Street commercial space in Raleigh where the groundbreaking ceremony was held. The County, the City, and The Raleigh / Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness selected Catholic Charities to be the operator of Oak City Cares. When completed in early 2019, Oak City Cares will be led by Kathy Johnson, who was recently named Executive Director of Oak City Cares.