Cape Fear Council of Goverments counts homeless population in annual Point in Time count

Cape Fear Council of Goverments counts homeless population in annual Point in Time count

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The Cape Fear Council of Government’s conducted it’s annual Point in Time (PIT) homeless count Wednesday.

Homeless Continuum of Care director Maegan Zielinski and a group of volunteers go out and survey the homeless population in Brunswick, New Hanover, and Pender Counties in one 24-hour period.

“We’re trying to really track individuals through this system so we can have real data to show the community that this is a problem," Zielinski said "It’s definitely going to take more than one agency, more than one person. It’s going to take all of us to end it.”

Last year, homelessness was up nearly 100 from 2018. Zielinski said that could be from many factors, including Hurricane Florence.

“I’ll compile that data and we’ll use it in all of our federal reports, all of our grants," said Zielinski. "Point in Time is actually a federally mandated event, so HUD says you have to conduct this with your community because they use the numbers for much bigger data to capture the state of homelessness in the country.”

Maegan has learned that the homeless population in the Cape Fear is older. Most are between 51 and 61 years old. They are also reporting a physical disability rather than a mental health disability.

“That sort of begs of the questions of what kind of housing do we have?" said Zielinski "Do we have accessible housing for the physically disabled and older population?”

“In the entire country, this is a homeless epidemic for all of us," Zielinski said. "Lack of affordable housing, increase in homelessness numbers. We definitely need more federal money to combat this problem. Our community is not as unique in that we all suffer from a lot of the same problems. Our community suffers from problems that Asheville or Wake [County] or Charlotte would suffer from too.”

The numbers from this year’s PIT should come in sometime late spring.

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