The snarl of red tape.

The sluggish pace of getting disaster relief to the people who need it.

Homeowners being told time after time they do not qualify after filling out complex applications.

The frustration was evident Wednesday night during a Hurricane Matthew Outreach Event held in the WAGES training room on Royall Avenue.

Many residents' homes are still unlivable a year after Hurricane Matthew -- an agonizing challenge for local residents still struggling to rebuild their lives.

Susan Perry Cole, president and CEO of the North Carolina Association of Community Development Corporations, told the 30 residents at the event that one of the reasons for the workshop was to encourage them not to give up.

The workshop presented an opportunity to help educate citizens about some of the various resources, including funding, housing and legal assistance, available to them.

The workshop, held from 4 to 7:30 p.m., was sponsored by Legal Aid of N.C.-Wilson, the N.C. Association of Community Development Corporations and U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Cole encouraged them as well not to miss out on the application deadline for programs including the N.C. Housing Finance Agency Essential Single-Family Rehabilitation Loan Pool-Disaster Recovery Program that the city of Goldsboro is part of.

The city will accept applications for that program until 5 p.m. on Nov. 30, she said.

Cole asked those in the audience about their experiences in gaining access to recovery programs and assets.

"I don't qualify for anything," one man said.

Cole said that has been a common complaint.

"The thing about this whole recovery process is that there are different income eligibility guidelines for things," Cole said. "Some people say two-income families don't qualify. Some people are just over the limit."

Those were comments heard during a similar event in Edgecombe County, she said.

The man said people are being punished for doing what their parents had taught them -- work, pay their bills and set aside some savings.

"You are being punished for it, and I can't stand it," he said. "It drives me crazy. I would be better off to quit my job and go on welfare, and then I would have gotten anything that I needed.

"Right now I am homeless. We don't have anything. I am just fed up with not qualifying because I have a job. It has been a nightmare for us."

People are being told to hurry up and wait, he said.

"It is not supposed to be income based," he said. "It should be based on need."

Cole said that was one message that she wanted to make sure she took back and that it was one she had heard before.

Cole said that while she did not speak for the General Assembly, lawmakers could provide additional support and that it was important for them to hear what is being said.

Another audience member agreed with the first man's comments and had been told he was in a "Catch-22" situation.

He, too, has been told he does not qualify, he said.

A woman in the audience talked about her issues with homeowners and flood insurance.

One of the reasons Legal Aid was part of the workshop was because some people needed to talk to a professional about their problems, Cole said.

"I am not trying to say that Legal Aid, or anyone, has a magic wand to solve every problem," she said. "But some people need to share their situation with somebody else that is in touch with all of the different avenues and arenas to look into them.

"I think one of the problems is that not enough people have said 'help me' -- have raised their hand and said, 'I need help. This is little too much for me.'"

That is one of the reasons for the workshop -- to encourage people to seek help if they have reached an impasse or are uncertain what to do next, she said.

It is important to know there are outlets that storm victims can turn to for help, she said.

"There is more money for community development in eastern North Carolina than we have seen in a long, long while." she said. "Is it enough? No."

But money is on the table and residents need to take advantage of it before it disappears, she said.

For example, Wayne County will receive $16 million in Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery funds -- a total that could increase to $25 million over the next three years.

Cole said she did not have any specifics because the county had just been awarded the grant and is in the process of hiring a firm to administer it.

"So there is more help coming and that is what we wanted to do -- try to encourage you all because this is not easy to go through something and a year later you are still not situated," she said. "But some of the decision makers, they have you in mind. People have been working hard to try and get this money here to North Carolina. Now they are trying to get it on the streets.

"When in doubt, apply, because you never know. Then when you get an answer and you don't understand it, ask questions."

For information about the N.C. Housing Finance Agency Essential Single-Family Rehabilitation Loan Pool-Disaster Recovery Program, contact the Goldsboro Community Relations Department at 919-580-4359 or by email at

For information on the county program, call 919-731-1435 or email