RALEIGH, N.C. — A father who got help through a local housing support program said he hopes more families get the same opportunity his did.


What You Need to Know

Wake County is expanding its permanent supportive housing program

The program pairs clients with ongoing support even after they are housed

Triangle Family Services recently revamped its own permanent supportive housing program

Nine families are enrolled in Triangle Family Services' program this year


Like so many workers, Abdul Hernandez and his fiancee, Tea, lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They then lost their New York home and everything in it to a fire. The couple brought their seven children to North Carolina so they could be closer to Hernandez's relatives. But the size of their family meant Hernandez had to keep moving from hotel to hotel, as there wasn't enough space under his relatives' roofs.

Abdul Hernandez, right, guides movers as they deliver donated furniture to his new home in Raleigh.

“Being inside the hotel, we were inside two separate hotel rooms,” he said. “Imagine how that looks, a family of that size inside two hotel rooms.”

The turning point came earlier this summer, when Triangle Family Services found a home for them in Raleigh. Hernandez and his family moved in in July, and donated furniture arrived from another nonprofit, The Green Chair Project, last week.

Triangle Family Services said beforehand this might have marked the end of its work with the family. Instead, the Hernandez family will continue to be connected with whatever support they need.

Known as permanent supportive housing, this model of service continues to connect clients with the services they need after they are housed. Program manager Dietrix Urquhart said in this case, Triangle Family Services will cover half of the Hernandezes' rent for at least a year. Urquhart said other families might be connected with mental health or substance abuse resources.

Wake County is boosting its own permanent supportive housing program. This year, the county board of commissioners approved $1.1 million to expand the permanent supportive housing program at its Cornerstone Center, a transitional shelter aimed at people experiencing homelessness. Urquhart said the additional funding could not come at a better time, given the toll the COVID-19 pandemic took on families like the Hernandezes.

Hernandez managed to find a new job but said having the ongoing support gives him a chance to make sure his situation is secure.

“That way, I can be able to maintain payments of the rent and give more support for the children,” he said. “Having a place that is big enough for the children is amazing in itself.”