NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC - Today, New Hanover County officially announced the creation of Port City United, a new county department that will facilitate, coordinate, and implement several of the community violence and intervention initiatives approved by Commissioners on January 24, 2022.
Port City United will have three main components: a unit that will include trusted outreach workers and mediators working within neighborhoods to intervene and prevent violence; Port City United Connect, a call center where community members can report violence or concerns and that also monitors social media for potential threats; and the nonprofit partnerships that will bring community resource coordinators into schools to help students and families receive equitable and easy access to services.
"I am so proud of New Hanover County for taking action on this serious issue in our community," said Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. "Port City United is desperately needed, as evidenced by the continual shootings and acts of violence we are seeing throughout Wilmington. More must be done. And this program and the people hired to make it a reality are an integral step in ensuring our youth and families get access to the resources they need in an equitable way, that conflicts can be resolved, violence can be stopped, and lives can be saved. Port City United is here to make positive change in our community."
Port City United will be comprised of community members who understand and possibly have direct or indirect experience with violence. Job opportunities have been posted as of today, and those can be found at humanresources.nhcgov.com/job-opportunities (search for "Port City United"). Opportunities include a Port City United director, data analyst, community mediation specialists, community outreach specialists, community resource coordinator liaison, and a Port City United Connect supervisor and specialists.
In addition, the county's request for proposals for nonprofit-based community resources coordinators has been advertised and can be found here. These coordinators will work in seven impact-zone identified schools, International School at Gregory, Snipes Academy of Art and Design, Forest Hills Global Elementary, Rachel Freeman School of Engineering, D.C. Virgo Preparatory Academy, Williston Middle School, and New Hanover High School, and connect students and families to community resources based on their needs. Working with parents and school personnel, these coordinators will provide case management and ensure educational, nutritional, health and social needs are met for students.
"This is a historic moment for our community, to begin the actionable work of putting a team in place for Port City United," said County Manager Chris Coudriet. "This department and its components have been directly informed through the input of the community, subject matter experts, and those who have been directly impacted by violence. We have listened to those who know the issues best and the department was even named by a community member, so it is truly a community-driven initiative. I believe we are on the right track to create a program and a service that helps our residents and helps to prevent tragedies from happening in our neighborhoods. We must build our community up, and we will do that with Port City United."
This new department is focused on addressing community violence using evidence-based models and programs, and will directly rely on collaboration and partnerships with faith-based and community-based organizations, businesses, and corporations to ensure seamless, wrap-around services for students, adults, and families.
The community will be kept informed as Port City United becomes operational, which is expected to be around April 1, 2022.