'House Wake' plan looks to address housing instability during COVID-19 and beyond

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- It was a problem before ...

"In December we had a shortage of 60,775 units of affordable housing in Wake County," said Lorena McDowell, Wake County Housing Department.

And it will likely be even worse at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We're going to have to find even more units of affordable housing as folks have lost income and folks are not able to afford the rents at their current rate," McDowell said.

That's why the Wake County Commissioners are hoping to get ahead of the issue, unanimously passing a new initiative Monday.

"The House Wake plan is around attempting to not only address the current housing instability that's coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic but also to help us look down the line," McDowell said.

House Wake will address homelessness and housing insecurity in phases. The first $2 million in funding from HUD will allow shelters to expand and continue social distancing. It will also give the county housing department control of the healthy hotels currently housing hundreds of homeless people. Until now, the Emergency Operations Center has overseen the hotels.

"The EOC cannot continue forever and so if we don't pull these hotels out of the EOC and come up with a plan to continue their operation, we would have to exit these folks back to homelessness and we do not intend to do that," McDowell said.

The county housing department said this plan is the best use for taxpayer dollars and provides a foundation for all families.

"If we don't keep folks housed, I mean, what kind of community will we live in when COVID-19 someday is gone from our communities and our daily lives? We can't have a community where folks don't have a place to lay their head," McDowell said.

This plan is funded until the end of the year and will be funded in phases.
Copyright © 2020 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.