The City Council has appointed six members to the Ten-Year Plan Commission, a new commission formed to implement a plan to end chronic homelessness.
The commission will also have five members appointed by the Forsyth County Commissioners.
The commission was recommended by a Blue Ribbon Task Force that began meeting in January 2005 to develop a 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness. Mayor Allen Joines and County Commission Chair Gloria Whisenhunt appointed the task force after the city received a $500,000 federal grant to develop the plan.
People who are continually homeless or who fall in and out of homelessness are considered chronically homeless. The task force found that in the course of a year, about 1,800 people in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County are homeless at some point. At the last count, 183 of them were considered chronically homeless. Although the chronically homeless make up only 10 percent of those who are homeless, they use about 40 percent of the resources available to serve the homeless.
The cornerstone of the plan is “housing first,” in which the homeless are put into permanent housing immediately, and then provided services to address the problems that put them on the street. “Housing first” has been proven in other communities to be twice as effective as the traditional approach of putting the homeless in shelters and providing them with services before finding permanent housing. The plan estimates that housing for about 600 people will have to be found over the next 10 years to end chronic homelessness in the community.
The commission members will oversee implementation of the plan and raise funds to support the plan’s goals. Initial support for the commission and the plan is being provided by the City of Winston-Salem, Forsyth County, the United Way, the Kate B. Reynolds Foundation and the Winston-Salem Foundation.
The United Way of Forsyth County has hired Andrea Kurtz to serve as the executive director of the commission. She will work with the commission to implement the plan starting in January. Kurtz previously served as the managing attorney of the Legal Aid Society of Northwest N.C., and served as its interim director in 2006.
The six commissioners appointed by the City Council are: Lynn Fuller-Andrews, the assistant general counsel for Hanesbrands Inc.; Lou Baldwin, the owner and president of the Baldwin Companies; Melynda Dunigan, a member of the Winston-Salem Neighborhood Alliance Association; Allen Parks, the site director, Business Credit Solutions, Wachovia Bank; James Walker, the president of John S. Clark Co. LLC; and Charles Wilson, the retired pastoral counselor for N.C. Baptist Hospital and president of the Homeless Council.
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