A hand up, not a handout: How the Carying Place combats homelessness in the Triangle

3 Degree Guarantee

CARY, N.C. (WNCN) – The Carying Place of Cary is the 3 Degree Guarantee charity for January 2020. The 27-year-old program gives homeless working families a hand up, not a handout.

Working families with children experiencing homelessness attend weekly sessions. They come for counseling and fellowship.

Chavon Harris and her family graduated from the program four years ago after unexpectedly losing their home.

“I was blindsided. We didn’t know what to do and I didn’t expect them to actually house you for 16 weeks and pay your rent and utilities,” Harris said.

Harris now volunteers to help others.

“I absolutely wanted to give back. I do the selection team, which picks the families that come into the program,” Harris said.

Executive Director Leslie Covington knows the importance of the Carying Place.

“There is a hidden segment of homelessness that we really don’t pay much attention to. It’s the working poor or people that have experienced tragedy,” Covington said.

The Carying Place’s program is four months long. When families come, they work on things like budgeting, employment skills, stress management, and parenting skills. The average family in the program has three kids. ​

“So, children here are an important component to the program,” Covington said. “We provide them with an outlet for sharing emotions about how they feel about being homeless, and our main goal is to stop the cycle of homelessness not just for the adults, but more importantly for the children.”

Every week, progress is reviewed and new goals are set. Volunteers help families set and keep a budget. Each family is required to save a portion of their income once bills are paid. These funds are placed in escrow accounts and returned to the family at graduation to pay for a deposit and rent, or even get a new house.

“We’ve even had a family who saved $10,000 in our program,” Covington said.

Families stay in fully furnished homes owned by the Carying Place while they’re in the program.

“I am very blessed to have been in this program. It helped us out tremendously. It was a huge burden lifted off our shoulders,” Harris said.

Covington loves the idea of a hand up, not a handout.

“You can see that you can change your own life. You actually become your own fate maker,” Covington said.

The Carying Place has worked with 440 families and has an 85-percent success rate since the program started in 1993. Success is defined by a family being self-sufficient for at least a year out from the program.

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