Local donor gives homeless Raleigh couple a night in real bed

Posted February 20, 2012
Updated February 21, 2012

John and Lee Venable

— For the first time in weeks, a Raleigh couple will be sleeping in a real bed Monday night.

John and Lee Venable are part of the nearly 13,000 North Carolinians who are homeless. Out of work for a year and living in their vehicle, their story inspired dozens of concerned community members to come forward with help.

Moments after the Venables appeared on WRAL News Monday evening, calls, emails and a flurry of social media flooded into the WRAL newsroom from people offering money, food and places to stay for the couple.

One woman paid to put them up in a hotel Monday night, where Lee Venable says she's grateful to be able to stretch out and lie down.

It's a far cry from the cramped bucket seat beds they've made in their Mercury Mountaineer SUV. At the hotel, they'll also be able to take showers, a luxury they've learned to go without since being evicted from their apartment.

John Venable, who has been out of work for a year but said he recently found a manual labor job, usually washes up in the bathroom sink of a local Food Lion.

Despite the slumping economy, the number of homeless people in the U.S. has decreased by 1 percent since 2009, according to the National Alliance to End Homelessness. However, the number of homeless families in North Carolina has risen 22 percent.

Keeping a head count on the homeless can be tricky. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs tries to track the number of homeless veterans by counting how many people it serves. Lee Venable Raleigh homeless couple warns: 'It can be you'

The groups estimate there are 2,000 homeless people on the streets in the Triangle on any given night. Those who are on the move and don’t ask for help can be some of the toughest homeless people to track down. The Venables are among those who travel and find “home” wherever they can.

The Women’s Center of Wake County, Healing Place, Raleigh Rescue Mission and Passage Home are among the Triangle organizations that have been helping the couple.


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  • storchheim Feb 21, 2012

    Read on another forum, but have not verified, that when you apply for UE you don't put your occupation. When employers claim there are no qualified Americans and they want to import workers via H1B, there's no way for anyone to look back at UE applics and say, "Uh, wait, there are 347 out-of-work IT pros right in your zip code!" So they get away with hiring labor that's 1) cheap 2) a slave to them for the next few years and can't jump ship.

  • vraptor Feb 21, 2012

    who owns the un-employment mess? the president and his admin. this is the worst recession since the great depression with regard to un-employment being over 8% for 36+ months.

    bush master does not own this one. nor do the evil rich people, corps, etc.

  • vraptor Feb 21, 2012

    so all you bho fans. why don't you open your house for these people???

    wral can be the collect point for these people to submit requests for a free room for a short time.

    where are the support networks? family, friends, church, etc.

    can't the red cross open up shelters for these people?

    how many open rooms are there in the gobernor's tax funded mansion?

  • jamesxwashington Feb 21, 2012

    Bill Brasky seriously this is not about Obama. Its apparent you have an issue with him. The best way for you to solve your issue is vote Republican which I'm sure you will in November, until then give us all a break.

  • muggs Feb 21, 2012

    When I see so many Hispanics in the construction industry and American tradesmen having a difficult time finding employment in those same fields it makes me wonder how so many of one ethnic group seem to have infiltrated the work force in such numbers,retired from the industry and was aware of the lax measures taken by employers in securing legal documentation of these people and was later to learn many were illegal,they say the housing industry crashed causing some of the economic challenges we are faced with but on road projects,commercial and residential building sites I still see a large number of Hispanics working when we still have so many Americans out of work,I don't blame them for taking the jobs but do hold those who employ them accountable for checking credentials that could be from a questionable source,it's not being racist to want our own to have jobs over foreigners that are here illegally.

  • storchheim Feb 21, 2012

    charlovesdogs, first, good luck. Hope you pass!

    Second, in many cases the jobs don't exist yet - or at all. A company might be thinking of moving here and wants to see who their workforce would be, so they put up job ads. Or they think they're going to bring in a new product line and see whether there's a workforce.

    Or in the case of IT and I'm sure other professions, the temp agencies just want to collect resumes so they can add names to their databases and say, "Look how many people we represent!" Or they may post a job ad knowing full well they're going to hire in an H1B candidate on the cheap, but must pretend to look for Americans first. There are all kinds of games.

    Now getting past that, if they're legit, the fact that they won't respond tells you they're getting flooded with applications for each job they post. They can't respond to them all.

  • jeanwilliams3 Feb 21, 2012

    Just to provide some actual information, the assistance the Venables will get to be able to get into a new housing situation is stimulus money (HPRP) which was allocated a little over two years ago. Our community has been blessed using that money to address the needs of over 200 households in Wake County who were about to lose their housing or who needed to get re-housed (as is the case with this couple). While we may have disagreement about some things that work and some that doesn't, we do need to be able to accurately determine which is which. The HPRP stimulus money was a great investment!

  • storchheim Feb 21, 2012

    Da Toy Maker, excellent advice. May I fine-tune one point? Go to your county's RE Tax Admin site or whatever, find houses like yours that have sold in the last two years, and see what they sold for vs. the assessed value. (I know "assessed" isn't supposed to mean "market", but these days it comes pretty close and it's all you've got to work with.)

    Now, check your home's assessed value. Take off several thousand in closing costs, subtract the loan balance and THERE's your equity.

    It may take you an hour or so, but knowledge is power.

  • dlentz2 Feb 21, 2012

    @storchheim.....not looking for sympathy. Just saying how people find themselves homeless. And by the way, they hadn't planned on the pregnancy, the results of being on birth control and taking antibiotics.

  • charmcclainlovesdogs2 Feb 21, 2012

    Have you sent out a resume lately and see what kind of responses you get?

    Been out of work for 3 years and sent out many resumes and never got a response. It also told me about the company. I feel the least a company could have done was to respond back even on a post card or a simply phone call. That would have been the professional thing to do. But they don't. I did go back to school so that I will hopefully be able to get a job. Pray for me, for I will be taking a state test tomorrow and I sure hope I do pass. Thanks.