Cape Fear Collective

A Cape Fear Collective Case Study

An Ecosystem Approach to Affordable Housing

Discover how Cape Fear Collective is working to transform the region's affordable housing ecosystem using innovative data science and EcoMap's platform.

“We had an assumption that if you could map an entrepreneurial ecosystem, you could map a social sector”

A headshot of a white woman with brown hair in a floral pattern shirt
CEO of Cape Fear Collective, Meaghan Dennison

Cape Fear Collective

In the wake of Hurricane Florence in 2019, corporate philanthropists from across Southeastern North Carolina came together to brainstorm ways to support the region’s nonprofit and social impact ecosystem. These conversations led to the birth of Cape Fear Collective, a Wilmington based 501(c)(3) nonprofit that seeks to combine data science and social impact investing to drive positive change in the community.

Recently we sat down with Cape Fear Collective’s CEO, Meaghan Dennison, to discuss the tremendous work her organization has been doing as well as the role that EcoMap has played to help connect the region’s affordable housing ecosystem.

A Need for Connection

Through social impact investments, Cape Fear Collective purchased approximately 100 single-family homes to help expand affordable housing options in New Hanover county. With the acquisition of properties came the need to connect existing rental residents to needed resources.

Previously, community health workers or case managers relied on what was called the “Street Sheet”, a hard-copy PDF flyer that contained a list of phone numbers of various support organizations and service providers in the region.

A flyer with information of housing resources
Excerpt from a previous Wilmington Street Sheet

Despite its best intentions, the Street Sheet had a crucial flaw.

“It risked being outdated each time a new print ran”, Dennison explained.

These frustrations with the Street Sheet, combined with the desire to comprehensively map out the Cape Fear region’s affordable housing ecosystem, led the team to EcoMap.

Enter EcoMap

“We had an assumption that if you could map an entrepreneurial ecosystem, you could map a social sector”, Dennison recalled.

Her assumption was correct.

In partnership with the Cape Fear Housing Coalition, a membership organization made up of over 80 partners, EcoMap developed the Cape Fear Housing Map. More than “just a map”, the Cape Fear Housing Map is a platform that is full of up-to-date assets that can be navigated via keywords and location. The platform aims to connect residents, social workers, and the broader community to the 230+ resources and the 150+ organizations that exist within the region’s affordable housing ecosystem. Individuals and support organizations can now connect with rental assistance, housing counseling, and other critical resources through the platform in a way that Street Sheet was limited.

a saas app displaying cards with information about housing resources
The Cape Fear Housing Map resource page

In addition to centralizing and mapping affordable housing resources within the region, the Cape Fear Housing Map enables policymakers and advocates from area to identify assets and opportunities for improvement within the ecosystem that need to be addressed.

“(We needed to know) where do we have gaps that are preventing folks from moving towards housing stability,” Dennison explained. “We needed to map the sector to start all of those conversations and to inform those conversations.”

Driving Adoption

Dennison and the rest of the Cape Fear Collective team are kicking off an outreach strategy to ensure that the platform reaches those who need it the most.

In partnership with the Cape Fear Housing Coalition, they’re planning information sessions to help onboard organizations to the platform and train them on how to best utilize it to help individuals they serve.

Eventually, broad adoption will enable individuals to immediately and independently access information about the resources they need.

A white sign in a front yard that reads "We support affordable housing."
Organizations part of the Coalition will undergo training on the platform


“Overall we want a healthier community and stable, affordable housing is directly tied to health outcomes,” said Dennison.

By helping to identify gaps in the affordable housing ecosystem while simultaneously connecting residents to the resources that exist within it, the Cape Fear Housing Map will ideally enable more residents achieve their housing goals and be in community, whether it is transitioning from emergency housing to a stable rental, or prepare for home ownership to generate wealth.

At EcoMap our mission has always been to make information more accessible to those who need it the most. We’re beyond proud of the role we’ve been able to play in supporting the exceptional work being done in the Cape Fear region and we’re excited the impact the platform has on the region’s affordable housing ecosystem.

If your organization is looking to map and connect your social support ecosystem, we’d love to help out. Please contact us below to set up a meeting, we look forward to the conversation!

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