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Cultivating Innovation

Uniquely situated as the lead agency addressing homelessness in Wake County, the Partnership is quick to identify emerging needs and is often called on to create and collaborate on innovative programs to find solutions.

White flag shelter

A prime example of this call for innovation occurred in early 2020 when the pandemic created a crisis for our already vulnerable homeless population that required immediate action.

With cold weather fast approaching, there was an urgent need for a specialized emergency shelter.

White Flag Shelter:

In 2020-2021, White Flag Shelters provided:

Over 60 nights of shelter

Over 3028 beds

Proving the power of collaboration, the Partnership and Urban Ministries worked together to quickly establish a White Flag Emergency shelter at Southeast Raleigh Table that followed strict COVID-19 protocols to keep staff and clients safe during extreme weather. We secured the location, bedding, medical, cleaning supplies, and laundry services, along with trained staff and security.

The standards set during this time are now the model for future pop-up emergency shelters during severe weather events.

To date, our leadership has helped the community weather the threat of COVID-19 without serious incident. The standards set during this time are now the model for future pop-up emergency shelters during severe weather events.

“Over the last year, I worked with the Partnership quite a few times, and they are working tirelessly to create opportunities for people and to create opportunities for organizations. Last winter, St. John’s was transformed into a temporary emergency shelter during the freezing temperatures. Within hours the Partnership had an emergency pod delivered here. Over 30 beds were set up in the sanctuary for folks to stay out of the cold and ensure lives were saved. They then continued to work to secure a location much better equipped, and that held about four times the amount of folks that Oak City and we could maintain that served through April as the emergency shelter for the cold months.”

The Rev. Vance E. Haywood, Jr.
Senior Pastor, St. John’s MCC

Housing Navigation Unit

Amid the pandemic, we did the heavy lifting to develop, staff, and operate a Housing Navigation Unit (HNU) and demonstrated its utility in the quest for more affordable housing. We collaborated with homeless service providers, the City of Raleigh, and Wake County to establish relationships with local landlords. In addition, we provided signing bonuses to landlords who agreed to lease to homeless clients and funds to mitigate any damages to the units.

The HNU served as a central resource directory of available homes and saved homeless service providers time in the tedious search to locate housing for their clients in an extremely tight rental market.

After reporting the successes and challenges of this approach, we helped transition the program to Wake County’s House Wake! program, where they are equipped with more extensive staff and funds.

Looking Ahead

These are just a few examples of our innovative programs and ability to quickly pivot to address our community’s needs through the pandemic crisis.

Moving forward, it is critical to identify additional funding sources that will allow us to sustain our nimble response and have a positive impact and address our community’s ever-changing needs.

“The growth of the Partnership has been tremendous. I think it’s evolving with the local community as we evolve around better partnering, collaboration, and better methods in working with our most vulnerable residents—and the homeless certainly meet that definition.”

Brian Klausner, MD, Medical Director,
WakeMed Community Care

Read the next section:

Program Highlights