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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Updates, resources, and context

NHCE issues $335,000 'independent project' grant to assist displaced Wilmington Housing Authority families

New Hanover Community Endowment logo.
New Hanover Community Endowment
New Hanover Community Endowment logo.

The funding from the New Hanover Community Endowment will go to the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh which will partner with the New Hanover Disaster Coalition to furnish homes and provide household items for more than 90 families still displaced from the Wilmington Housing Authority. It's in addition to a nearly $200,000 grant the non-profit received as part of the endowment's inaugural grant-making cycle.

The New Hanover Community Endowment (NHCE) grant was issued separately from the “Cape Fear Opportunities and Needs Grant” cycle announced earlier this year, which provided over $9 million in funding for 110 community partners, according to a spokesperson from Eckel & Vaughan, the PR firm that represents the endowment.

The $335,000 grant is significantly more than the $250,000 cap which NHCE had put in place for that grant cycle.

It's also in addition to the $197,500 grant Catholic Charities Cape Fear Regional Office received during the 'opportunities and needs' grant cycle, which was to "support capital expenditures."

The grant is an “independent project,” according to the spokesperson, who called it the “first of many opportunities for the endowment to respond directly to the ongoing needs in the community.”

The many families still displaced from their homes are the victims of the systemic mismanagement of mold in Wilmington Housing Authority homes, aggravated by the abrupt departure of former authority head Katrina Redmon; she left as the crisis was hitting a breaking point, throwing the floundering authority further into disarray. In the spring, Tyrone Garrett was hired to help right the ship at WHA. He aimed to get all of WHA’s families back into homes by the end of the year — a goal that has proven to be unattainable.

Related: Over a year into the mold crisis, WHA's new leader says progress is being made

In a statement, William Buster, CEO and president of NHCE, wrote, “I appreciate the efforts of the Wilmington Housing Authority to rehome displaced families in our community and am thrilled the endowment has an opportunity to come alongside their efforts, as well as the efforts of the [Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh], to ensure these families return to safe, newly-furnished homes.”

The furniture and other “household essentials” will come from The Green Chair Project, a Raleigh-based non-profit. The organizations all aim to provide furniture cash stipends or vouchers for residents to pick out the furnishings needed, according to a press release.

NHCE was created from roughly $1.25 billion in proceeds from the sale of the formerly county-owned New Hanover Regional Medical Center, established as a private non-profit. NHCE made its first round of grant awards this month; you can find a full list of those grants here.

Disclosure note: WHQR applied for but did not receive a grant from NHCE.

Ben Schachtman is a journalist and editor with a focus on local government accountability. He began reporting for Port City Daily in the Wilmington area in 2016 and took over as managing editor there in 2018. He’s a graduate of Rutgers College and later received his MA from NYU and his PhD from SUNY-Stony Brook, both in English Literature. He loves spending time with his wife and playing rock'n'roll very loudly. You can reach him at BSchachtman@whqr.org and find him on Twitter @Ben_Schachtman.