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How many homeless people are in this area?

Merton Vance
StarNews

It is difficult to get an accurate count of how many homeless people are in the area, but a survey conducted by homeless services agencies on Jan. 27, 2010 identified 673 homeless people in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties. That’s up from 630 identified in a survey in January 2009.

The survey found 76 homeless families, including 189 children.

The actual numbers are higher, said Catrecia McCoy Bowman, housing specialist with the Southeastern Center for Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities & Substance Abuse Services.

Her agency tries to locate homeless people who have mental health problems and provide them with assistance.

During the annual survey, teams go out to homeless shelters, feeding sites and locations of homeless camps.

But some homeless people living in make-shift camps are reluctant to talk, Bowman said.

“They didn’t want to do an interview and are very protective of information,” she said.

The survey found 461 homeless people in New Hanover County, 184 in Brunswick and 28 in Pender.

The Brunswick County number jumped the most, up from 101 a year earlier. Bowman said part of the increase is because more people have sought help in Brunswick County this year.

Since this fall, there has been more money available to help people find housing, Bowman said.

In October 2009, a coalition of agencies that help homeless people received a grant of $1.2 million in federal money that’s part of an economic recovery stimulus bill. The money will be spent in the three-county area over the next three years to help homeless people find a place to live. It’s called the Homelessness Prevention and Rapid Rehousing Program.

The money can be used to help pay security deposits, utility deposits and back rent for people who need assistance renting a place to live.

The Cape Fear Area United Way is the lead agency for the grant, which is being coordinated by the Good Shepard House, the Salvation Army, Pender Housing and Brunswick Family Assistance.

While many homeless people have been homeless for some time, there are many more who haven’t been homeless before, a sign of tough economic times.

Surveyors this year found what one termed “homeless fatigue,” Bowman said, because they are frustrated by chronic homelessness.

“A lot of people we saw last year are still out there. We have another population that is totally new to this,” Bowman said.

For more information:

www.capefearhomeless.org

User-contributed question by:
Amy Sliger

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4 Responses to “ How many homeless people are in this area?”

  1. On February 19, 2010 at 12:37 pm Anonymous wrote:

    I would also like to know how we stack up to other similar size cities in this region. I think we have proportionally more, one homeless guy who was bothering me for money, said he came out here from California. Is this some kindof homeless mecca?

  2. On March 1, 2010 at 7:24 pm Janet Allen wrote:

    I know that there is one less homeless person.Got a call from my sister Feb 27.At 3:30 am. My Brother was found dead laying on the ground near New Hanover Med Center about 1 mile. Can’t confirm how long he had been dead.They said maybe 3 to 6 day’s. My brother had a big heart.He wasn’t famose.If he had been, it would of been spread all over the news. I live in Hickory NC I’m his sister. Shocked that how I see in the papers about murders, rapes, but it seems my brother was nothing to the news. I have been looking everyday just to see if his name was in the paper or in the news. Sorry if I sound bitter, but he was a real person. Barry Wayne Viar. Great brother we were three years apart. Every homeless person has family. And they are human.You never know about the person that you turn down when there hand comes out of their pockets.So don’t judge that person.Just wanted people to know his name.

  3. On March 4, 2010 at 3:23 pm Heather wrote:

    Janet I am very sorry for your loss. I did in fact hear of your brothers passing on the news. It is a shame that so many people in america live without a home. It is worse that the homeless are generally seen as drunks and drug addicts when that is so far from the truth. My father has lived his life on the brink of homelessness for the passed ten years. He never every drinks or does drugs. He has chronic health issues and has a very hard time keeping a job. My heart goes out to you.

    Anonymous-
    Yes homlessness is an issue all over the country and I seriously doubt Wilmington is the mecca.

  4. On July 14, 2012 at 8:50 am cherry m. wrote:

    When agencies make it so hard to get for those who may be living at the edge of homelessness, that after so many times of being turned down they just give up. I don’t know how a person who can’t find a job, with two children can be told that getting $900 a month is making too much money to get help. You can not live in a “tourist” town with not enough jobs to make a living and support your family. I have lived here all my life and would not want to live anywhere else. There are too many people with upper income or money in their pocket moving in telling the people who are trying to live here by working, “how to do it”. Let the jobs come in, do not let it be so hard for the average person to live here, stop looking for tourists to come in and spend money. Only a few people can be supported by that kind of money. I have seen this kind of thought process bring the city of Wilmington down to where it is now. Help before it needs to be fixed!



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