When Hurricane Matthew first impacted central and eastern North Carolina, hundreds of families were forced from their homes. Today, too many families still struggle to find safe and stable housing. For the past year and a half, Catholic Charities staff have been helping families find new housing and assisting with some of the upfront costs of moving.
“There was limited affordable housing prior to the storm, so families have faced many challenges in their recovery.” Ms. Ethel Higgins, Tar River regional director, explained. “It is a long and slow process and our staff have been there with families to help connect them to available resources.”
In January of 2017, Catholic Charities hired a new emergency assistance coordinate, Ms. Stephanie Manosalvas, to assist with the increase in families needing assistance. In her role, Ms. Manosalvas has worked with the 25 other agencies that are part of the Disaster Recovery Partnership of Pitt County (DRP) to provide a community response to local survivors.
Ms. Higgins realized that there was going to be an extended need for case management to continue in Pitt County. She decided to approach the DRP to propose the idea of a formal agreement between the DRP and Catholic Charities to continue having Ms. Manosalvas provide case management.
“Nationally, Catholic Charities has been known for their case management services dating back to before Hurricane Katrina,” Higgins stated. “It only seemed natural for us to take the lead on this and have Stephanie continue the great work that she is doing.”
The DRP was excited about the idea and the 25-member agencies and the DRP board voted to approve an official Memorandum of Understanding outlining how services would be provided. Through this partnership, the DRP will provide funding for Catholic Charities to complete intake sessions with survivors, assess their needs, develop recovery plans, and support clients as they work to achieve their goals.
“We are excited about this MOU because we were nearing the end of our ability to provide case management services,” Higgins explained. “We now expect to continue assisting clients through the beginning of 2019.”