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Mecklenburg survey: Number of homeless has dropped

  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/29/21/28/LSoP9.Em.138.jpeg|316
    JEFF WILLHELM - jwillhelm@charlotteobserver.com
    Alisha Pruett interviews a Tera Bryant, who is living on the benches of Tryon St. on Wednesday night.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/29/21/12/xMR1r.Em.138.jpeg|210
    JEFF WILLHELM - jwillhelm@charlotteobserver.com
    Alisha Pruett interviews two homeless men living under a bridge near the NC Music Factory.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/29/21/12/1vCMnG.Em.138.jpeg|209
    JEFF WILLHELM - jwillhelm@charlotteobserver.com
    Volunteer Greg Brooks (right) talks with Wayne Gaston (left), who sleeps under a bridge near the Brookshire Freeway.
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/01/29/21/12/169YUu.Em.138.jpeg|209
    JEFF WILLHELM - jwillhelm@charlotteobserver.com
    Volunteer Greg Brooks gives a blanket to Maurice Torrence on the railroad tracks in northeast Charlotte on Wednesday night.

More Information

  • Point in Time census counts Charlotte's homeless
  • On frigid night, agencies conduct homeless census
  • Survey results

    • The 171 homeless consisted of 165 adults and six children.

    • 162 were single. The survey found three families.

    • 50 percent were found in or near Charlotte’s uptown, but homeless were found in all parts of the county.

    • 71 percent were male and 67 percent were African-American.

    • 75 percent said they had been homeless for a year or more.

    • 50 people said they had visited an emergency room in the past three months. Survey organizers estimate the total cost of medical care was $650,000.

    • 63 said they had been treated for mental illness, 83 for substance abuse and 42 for both.



A three-day survey conducted late last month by a coalition of social services agencies has found that the number of homeless people living on the streets in Mecklenburg County has decreased over the past year.

Leaders of the survey, conducted across Mecklenburg County, released results Friday and said they found 171 homeless people living outdoors. That compared with 283 in a study last year and 314 in a survey four years ago.

“Our methodology has changed, but we believe the survey has found a decrease in the number of homeless,” said Liz Clasen-Kelly, a leader of the Point In Time Count. “We know 171 is too many, but we are making progress.”

Volunteers from a variety of organizations fanned out across county, checking at reported campsites of the homeless. Clasen-Kelly said a number of those sites were vacant but she said bitter cold (temperatures were in the teens) probably sent some of the homeless to shelters.

“We plan to do another survey when the weather warms up,” she said.

Pamela Jensen of the nonprofit Supportive Housing Communities was among those who conducted interviews. She said the decreased number of homeless is a sign that progress is being made.

“Credit for that goes to the volunteers in the community who have targeted the homeless and are providing help,” she said.

Another volunteer, Doug Macomb from Hands on Charlotte, said he interviewed seven homeless people in northwest Mecklenburg County.

“I believe most of those people could probably get into supportive housing, with some coaxing,” he said, adding that some of those he interviewed were holding down jobs.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle
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