Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Good Shepherd launches $20M campaign to expand campus, bring 70 homes to the unsheltered population

Good Shepherd announces Thursday its Home for Good campaign to raise $20 million for expanding services and constructing more permanent supportive housing. (Courtesy Good Shepherd)

WILMINGTON — A local nonprofit is on a multi-million-dollar mission to grow its services and provide additional comforts to a vulnerable population. Good Shepherd announced Thursday a $20-million capital fundraising effort to take place over the next three years.

The Home for Good campaign will raise funds for the construction of a three-story building on property across from Good Shepherd’s campus at 811 Martin St. It would double space for families needing both temporary and permanent housing.

READ MORE: City to donate former fire station land, partner with Good Shepherd for homeless housing

In the late ‘90s, the nonprofit purchased a roughly 1-acre wooded tract of land at 812 Martin St., knowing the nonprofit wanted to expand eventually.

“While daunting in terms of scope, and the amount we need to raise, at the same time I don’t know if there’s ever been as much understanding and appreciation as to how dire the housing situation is,” executive director Katrina Knight added. “The need is so great.”

Good Shepherd announced it’s already made a $1.5-million dent toward its goal, from private donations, including an undisclosed amount from MegaCorps, whose CEO Ryan Legg is the chair of Good Shepherd’s capital campaign.

The nonprofit’s fundraising efforts are coming off the announcement of a few more projects it’s involved with. Good Shepherd will redevelop the former Wilmington Fire Department land on Carolina Beach Road to create 32 permanent supportive housing units for the chronically homeless. The city approved the land donation at Tuesday’s council meeting.

It’s also partnering with Cape Fear Collective to rehab Driftwood, a 15-unit affordable housing complex, that will provide on-site services for its residents.

Money from the $20 million fundraiser will be allocated for those multiple efforts as well.

“[It] didn’t make sense to tackle one thing at a time and return two years later to see if the community is supportive of another,” Knight said. “So, we said, ‘Let’s just be clear what the vision is and package it altogether.’”

The combined effort will add 70 housing units to the community, supporting the chronically homeless and disabled populations. Residents are responsible for no more than 30% of their income for rent, and even that is flexible.

The $20-million mark is still a rough estimate, Knight explained, and the work now starts in terms of putting together site plans. She said the nonprofit wants to recruit Tise-Kiester as the architect, also behind the redevelopment of SECU Lakeside — a 40 one-bedroom affordable housing units sitting on 4 acres of land situated behind Legion Stadium. Good Shepherd, in partnership with Lakeside Partners of Wilmington, completed the project more than a decade ago.

“He’s worked with housing authorities and developed supportive housing around the state,” Knight said. “This is a special kind of multi-family build, so there’s much to take into consideration.”

Lakeside DHIC has been brought into the fold to consult on the development.

“We really want to challenge what people picture when they think of affordable housing,” Knight said. “It should be pretty, attractive, fit in a coastal community, well-kept and an inspired place for the people who live there and live around it.”

The new three-story structure will accommodate eight private rooms for families seeking temporary housing, double what is currently available on its main campus. The goal is to offer larger rooms, so families have more lounge space or room to do homework and apply for jobs; in the current space, many folks utilize the dining room for these activities. 

Right now, family rooms are “modest,” Knight said, basically consisting of bunk beds, and families share a combined lounge space.

Knight said the pandemic was illuminating for staff, in the sense they realized what worked for the family shelter since 2005 may not be the ideal approach any longer.

“If we could have a do-over and create what we would think of as the ideal family shelter, not only space for each family but built to incorporate their own case management space, enrichment space for tutors to come in, or plan fun activities,” she said, “moving it across the street will allows us to do expand and do that.”

More space means offering additional programming, an expanded day shelter and private rooms for individuals who may need one. The existing shared family lounge will be converted into a computer lab and study library.

Knight and her team spent the summer visiting other shelters around the state to gauge what works and what doesn’t.

Once the Good Shepherd expansion is complete, it will have to hire more employees — Knight estimates at least six to eight — to ensure adequate service.

“With each of these [additions], there’s an art and a science on how do you get the right size for the effort?” she said. “We want to have the greatest reach we think we could make in an effort to address significant demand but also not get beyond what we can do well.”

The focus of Good Shepherd may differ slightly from similar organizations, Knight added, in that its main goal is toward “helping a family back to housing again.”

“It’s more difficult, it’s messier and more expensive, but, ultimately, more effective in not just being a safety net but a safe place to fall and one that helps them expedite success to a degree possible,” she said.

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