WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The data is in after a 24-hour count the homeless population in the Cape Fear.
The point-in-time count (PIT) is the number of homeless people accounted for in a 24-hour period in both sheltered and unsheltered populations. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) required communities receiving federal funds from a grant to count all of the homeless people during the last week of January in a 24-hour period.
According to the data, there are 431 homeless individuals in the Cape Fear which is up 98 from last year.
The Cape Fear Council of Governments’ Tri-County Homeless Interagency Council -- the Cape Fear area’s HUD approved Continuum of Care (CoC) -- conducted the PIT on Jan. 30. That includes New Hanover, Brunswick, and Pender Counties. Volunteers, from each county, went out and survey the homeless by asking questions to help gather data to send back to the HUD.
“I do feel confident that those numbers are accurate especially with Florence,” said Maegan Zielinski, the CoC Director. “We can’t say directly these numbers are because of hurricane Florence. However, indirectly, definitely because if there is no housing opportunities there is no where to place people so we’re not decreasing numbers. So as housing opportunities decrease homelessness numbers increase because the solution to homelessness is housing.”
The CoC just launched a new program called “Coordinated Entry.” It’s a federal mandate to help get the homeless into housing. Zielinski says there is research that shows how effective the program really is.
“Coordinated entry is to really help everyone have a fair and equal chance in getting into these resources for these HUD dollars and to make sure we’re prioritizing those most vulnerable and those with the highest needs,” said Zielinski.
The program starts with a free assessment to see what the person needs and what steps should be taken next. Then the CoC reaches out to local agencies and programs that would best fit that person’s situation with the ultimate goal of getting them into a home.
Zielinski says she hopes to get more community members involved in the PIT count next year to not only bring the community together, but to raise more awareness about homelessness in our community.
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To learn more about Coordinated entry, visit the HUD’s website.