Every night, hundreds of people are sleeping on the streets in York and Mecklenburg counties. It’s a problem that the county and various community organizations say they are trying to solve.
On Thursday, volunteers conducted what is called a Point-in-Time Count, where they surveyed how many people in the area are experiencing homelessness.
Channel 9′s Gina Esposito followed Deborah Phillips with Block Love Charlotte and her team through the First Ward. They had wagons filled with sleeping bags, toiletries, and food.
They found about a dozen people sleeping in a shipping container off North Tryon Street and a few more trying to stay dry in First Ward Park.
Volunteers said this is the seventh year they have participated in the Point-in-Time Count. They said the information they collected would be sent to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, and they determined how much federal money the county would give to support the county’s homeless population.
“I like it because this year’s survey is a little shorter than last year, and so it made the survey easier for our neighbors, so we aren’t taking up too much of their time because we are starting this at the wee hours of the morning,” Phillips said.
Phillips said her goal is to build trust so people can take advantage of resources already available to them.
“When you look at some of these we interviewed last year, they are not out here this year. So we know we are making a difference,” Phillips explained.
Last year, volunteers counted more than 1,900 people who were experiencing homelessness. That included 171 families, 106 unaccompanied youths, and 288 people who were sleeping outside.
However, volunteers told Channel 9′s Gina Esposito that the number keeps growing.
Data from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg State of Housing Instability and Homelessness report shows an 11% increase in people without homes from June 2022 to June 2023.
The data collected Thursday will go into the 2021 report, which will come out in a few months.
In York County, organizers visited homeless shelters and outdoor camps Wednesday evening.
Leaders said having an official count helps them apply for grant funding, as well as petition the city and county governments for money to help with issues brought on by homelessness. They hope to connect those who are homeless with resources that can help them.
Volunteers will conduct the count in York County through Saturday.
Similar counts will take place in Chester and Lancaster counties as well.
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