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Karisa McDaniel Works to Increase Housing Options for Members in the Triad Region

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When Karisa McDaniel joined Cardinal Innovations Healthcare's Triad Region in November as a Community Engagement Housing Specialist, she began opening up new housing possibilities for individuals eligible for the Transitions to Community Living (TCL) program.

Cardinal Innovations has made it a priority to help members capable of living independently to realize that dream. Often, though, finding housing can be tricky. That's where McDaniel comes in.

McDaniel, who has a background in business and social work, meets with landlords and private homeowners in the Triad Region, educating them about Cardinal Innovations, its members and the TCL program. She works to build relationships with the property owners and recruit them to participate with the TCL program by accepting Cardinal Innovations members as tenants. She has built relationships with over 100 property owners.

“The purpose is to remove the stigma and ultimately to provide a place for our members to stay," McDaniel said, adding that often the property owners want to help, but need more information. “The biggest concern is whether they are going to continue receiving support."

The landlords want to know who to call if they or their tenant needs help and they want to understand what to expect from a new renter. McDaniel offers education to the landlords and their staff members, teaching Mental Health First Aid training as well as classes on trauma and stigma.

Once a property owner has agreed to work with Cardinal Innovations, McDaniel sends the information about the available housing to a Transitions Housing Specialist who works directly with the member who wants to live independently.

“I explain to the landlords that they will meet a TCL specialist who will discuss the lease in detail," she said. “It takes an entire team to make this possible."

McDaniel said she first knew she wanted to work in the field of serving others following a three-month work trip to India for a previous employer. She said she saw such deep poverty and need that it inspired her to make a career change when she returned home. She earned a master's degree in human services from Concordia University and has worked as a case worker and also helped resettle refugees before joining Cardinal Innovations.

“It's about making a difference. I know we're changing lives and impacting the community for the better," she said about her work at Cardinal Innovations.

Melissa Bunker, Regional Manager for Community Engagement in the Triad Region, said McDaniel truly cares about the community she serves.

“There is no substitute for her passion and authenticity when it comes to providing consistent customer service," Bunker said. “Her previous experience, coupled with her enthusiasm were the perfect fit to launch the collaboration between Transitions to Community Living and the Community Engagement departments."

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