What is Stable Homes Cary?

New plan, money, to help residents displaced by development

BY Kristen Johnson for The News & Observer
Updated MARCH 16, 2024 9:16 AM


When a family learns they must move out of their home, it can be a stressful, even frightening experience.

From finding new schools for children, sometimes new jobs, and a new home they can afford, many scramble to find options.

In Cary, leaders want to be ready if and when Chatham Estates Mobile Home Park is sold and its residents, some of whom have lived there for decades, must leave.

On Thursday night, the Cary Town Council unanimously approved Stable Homes Cary, a partnership with the nonprofit Dorcas Ministries that will provide cash assistance, case management, referrals and displacement support for residents.


Chatham Estates, at the intersection of Maynard Road and East Chatham Street near downtown Cary, went up for sale last year and has not been sold yet. However, local organizers and residents say when the inevitable happens, it will throw people into a frenzy.

Moving a mobile home could cost a family tens of thousands of dollars, and residents, who pay $400 a month for their home’s plot, would have to find housing in a growing area with limited affordable options.

The community consists of working-class families, immigrants and seniors, some of whom have lived there for over 20 years. Katia Roebuck, an organizer with the nonprofit ONE Wake, credits the work of the residents who first brought the issue of displacement to the public’s attention.

She said Stable Homes Cary is a good start compared to where the residents were a year ago without any emergency options.

“Chatham Estates residents are really excited that we have accomplished this together. This initiative is a result of their efforts of organizing for an entire year,” Roebuck said. “(Town leaders) responded because of the determination and persistence and consistency of the residents.”


Cary will provide Dorcas Ministries with three years of funding from money already budgeted for housing purposes. The town will give $500,000 this year, $550,000 next year, and $600,000 in 2026. The town has $5 million in its Fiscal Year 2024 budget for housing projects.

The town added $800,000 to Dorcas as an initial commitment to Dorcas and Stable Homes Cary, which the three payments will be added towards.

Dorcas Ministries will also partner with other nonprofits, such as Doorway to Hope, Passage Home, ONE Wake and Wake County Public Schools, to connect low- and moderate-income residents with available resources.

Heather Whelehan, the town’s director of housing and community partnerships, said the need for immediate assistance is increasing due to rising housing costs and redevelopments in Cary and around the Triangle. Once sold, Chatham Estates could also be redeveloped.

“We wanted to develop a program around Dorcas’ current model aimed at keeping people in their homes and add services to provide support when relocation is inevitable,” she said.

Dorcas Ministries, founded in 1968, helps residents by giving food, clothing, and money for rent and other financial needs. They also assist the town with its Oasis program, which funds utility bills, and the Play It Forward program, which helps families with recreational costs for children.

Last year, Dorcas provided $2.7 million in financial and food assistance to over 6,000 people in Cary.

Andre Anthony, the organization’s CEO, said that because Cary is one of the fastest-growing communities in the country, “there’s a perception that most people in this area are doing very well.”

“Much like the rest of the country, as we’ve experienced this rapid growth, especially in the last few years, the socio-economic gap continues to widen,” he said. \


Stable Homes Cary’s approval comes months after town leaders promised to prioritize affordable housing options and help the more than 700 people living in Chatham Estates if they are forced to move.

In September, candidates for the Cary Town Council publicly stated their commitment to housing affordability at a forum attended by over 600 people.

Town Council leaders have previously approved affordable housing measures, including the 2021 Cary Housing Plan, which expanded programs and operations.

In 2022, the council members approved the rezoning of 7.06 acres to make way for 126 multi-family units for mixed-income residents at 921 SE Maynard Road.

That year, the town approved a historic $9 million in funding in their budget for affordable housing, including $2.9 million from the capital improvements budget, $1.1 million in additional town funding, and $5 million from the American Rescue Plan Act.

“We all gave (town staff) what we thought was an impossible task and instead of saying, ‘We can’t do that,’ (staff) sat down with paper and pen and reached out to all of the folks that you have and came up with something truly remarkable,” said Councilwoman Lori Bush. “I’m so glad to be part of Cary.”


Read full articl here