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Good Shepherd Center launches capital campaign to house the chronically homeless

Good Shepherd Center

On the heels of a major land donation from the City of Wilmington, Good Shepherd Center has announced its goal to raise $20 million to build and preserve 71 units of permanent supportive housing.

Wilmington may soon be home to 71 more units of permanent supportive housing.

Wilmington City Council voted unanimously at its Tuesday night meeting to up-zone an acre of land, then give it to Good Shepherd Center (GSC)to permanently house the chronically homeless.

The tract at 3939 Carolina Beach Road went from moderate-density to high-density residential, and 32 apartments can now be built there.

There are currently 98 units of permanent supportive housing in Wilmington. To accommodate the full need for the homeless in the community, advocates believe that number needs to at least double. GSC Executive Director Katrina Knight thanked the council at the hearing Tuesday.

"While 33 is a modest number of units, the proposed rezoning would still move the needle in the right direction to improve the city's overall housing inventory. We're grateful for the city's ongoing commitment to affordable housing," she said.

Capital campaign

On Thursday evening, Good Shepherd Center announced a massive capital campaign to build that project, along with two others. The organization set a goal of raising $20 million to build or preserve 71 units of permanent supportive housing. In addition to the Carolina Beach Road location, 24 units will be built on Good Shepherd's expanded campus on Martin Street, and Driftwood Apartments will be rehabbed

Mayor Bill Saffo pointed to the success of Lakeside Reserve, a similar project by Greenfield Lake which has enriched and stabilized the lives of dozens of formerly homeless residents. While this land donation doesn't directly help with funding, Saffo said it's possible the city will kick in some money during its next non-profit funding cycle.

"Obviously, when we're spending taxpayers' dollars, we want to make sure that we're getting the best bang for our buck," he said. "One of the things that we have heard from our citizens is, what can you do to help on the homeless issue, and this is obviously a very significant, complex issue that we have to deal with and have been dealing with," he said.

The land donation alone is a major win, though, in a city with very few large tracts of land available for such buildings.

Saffo added that Good Shepherd has an excellent track record from its 40-year history in the community. Knight has said the new housing units should look like high-quality apartments, indistinguishable from similar buildings in the area. That would be in line with Lakeside Reserve, which is often mistaken for a retirement community because of its architectural elements, which blend in with the surrounding neighborhood.

So far, Good Shepherd has raised $1.5 million of its $20 million goal, and it aims to secure the rest of the funding within three years. Megacorp was a major initial donor, and the company’s CEO, Ryan Legg, is now the chair of the Home For Good campaign.

Megacorp hosted the campaign's kickoff, and Legg spoke glowingly of Good Shepherd's efforts.

"You see people sleeping on the streets, and it just breaks my heart," he said of his contribution. "And you know, that there's plenty of money in this town that we can get this done. So it's, it's very important."

Kelly Kenoyer is an Oregonian transplant new to the East Coast. She attended University of Oregon’s School of Journalism as an undergraduate, and later received a Master’s in Journalism from University of Missouri- Columbia. Contact her on Twitter @Kelly_Kenoyer or by email: KKenoyer@whqr.org.