Lack of affordable housing an obstacle for the homeless
Posted March 14, 2015
Updated March 15, 2015
Raleigh, N.C. — Walnut Terrace, a neighborhood in Raleigh, used to have a high number of public housing units. But those units have been replaced with suburban-style single-family homes and duplexes.
Satana Deberry, executive director of the North Carolina Housing Coalition, an advocacy group for low- and moderate-income housing, thinks the change happened partly because the cost of building high-density dwellings has risen.
“Especially in the big cities, there’s really a lack of housing at rents that people can afford,” she said.
In a January 2014 study, the coalition counted 13,000 homeless in North Carolina. That number is rising each year.
Deberry and other experts say while a host of problems can lead to chronic homelessness, the lack of affordable rentals is a major factor.
“We've not had a lot of development of the affordable housing that is meeting the needs of the folks that are left remaining on the streets,” said Betty Corbett, a director with the Raleigh Rescue Mission.
Homelessness isn’t always due to a lack of initiative.
“It’s not like these are the lazy slackers,” Jean Williams, executive director at The Women’s Center of Wake County. “The people we encounter are out there working in restaurants, retail and in hotels cleaning rooms. They're a vital part of our community.”
Experts say the community has to become more involved with taking care of those in need. Investing in housing stocks, volunteering at a local rescue mission or donating to charities are all helpful ways to get homeless people off the streets and help them transition to permanent housing.
“Housing is a human right,” Deberry said. “And if we can’t house each other and we can’t take care of each other, kids don’t have the opportunity to go forward in their lives. So, we really should invest in our housing stock in North Carolina.”