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Wake County to take on homelessness with nonprofit Step Up

Step Up is a nonprofit addressing homelessness with a Housing First model. Wake County is working with Step Up to create 500 affordable housing units in the county and area.

Raleigh's skyline lit up at night.

According to a federally required count, there are 1,500 people who are homeless in Wake County

Photo by RALtoday

Wake County is teaming up with California nonprofit Step Up to address homelessness. This is the nonprofit’s second NC program after Asheville with efforts based in California as well as Georgia, Florida, and Tennessee.

“By partnering with Step Up, we can expand our efforts even further and help our hardest to house residents find safe places to live,” said Lorena McDowell, Wake County’s Director of Affordable Housing and Community Revitalization, in a press release.

This partnership was announced at the 2023 Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting in New York City, a meeting of influential figures committed to addressing pressing challenges including homelessness. Other 2023 presenters included Pope Francis, the Clinton family, and philanthropist celebrities like Matt Damon and Patrick Dempsey.

Step Up prioritizes housing for homeless community members by purchasing older motels to convert them into studio apartments intended for permanent supportive housing. As of 2021, Step Up has housed 1,850 individuals. The organization’s goal is to create 500 affordable housing units across Raleigh, Greensboro, Fayetteville, Winston-Salem, and Asheville over the next two years.

Wake County will supply residents with vouchers to subsidize rent, and Step Up will provide resident services including psychiatrists for medication care and transportation. In addition to these services, Step Up creates opportunities for social connections + support, and provides training for future employment.

The target completion date for all housing units is September 2025, including 160 in Raleigh. Step Up projects these units will be constructed in one third of the time and cost compared to traditional homeless housing developments.