Local News

Raleigh Rally Calls Attention To Plight Of Homeless

Posted April 17, 2004

— Every night, hundreds of homeless people roam the streets of Raleigh trying to find a safe place to stay.

Saturday, the call to end homelessness grew loud in the capital city. Dozens marched through downtown with the pledge to fix a citywide problem.

Moore Square Park is a gathering place for many homeless people. Business owners right across the street at City Market said that can be bad for business.

But no matter which side people sit on the issue, most agree that the homeless problem in Raleigh cannot be ignored.

Saturday's rally came a day after city leaders announced a 10-year action plan to end homelessness.

The plan has two key points: focusing on sources of hardship like domestic violence and drug abuse, and allocating more resources for shelters.

Supporters said it is a progressive commitment. Critics said 10 years is too long, adding that the city needs emergency plans to get people off the streets now.

Ritchie Hammond, a Vietnam veteran, has been on the streets for two years without health insurance. He said he has tried looking for a job, but "the situation is much harder today because a lot of jobs are going overseas, and mass immigration has taken a lot of entry-level jobs."

Homeless people do not just live on the streets. They also live in the woods, where one local homeless camp houses about 25 people and even has its own mayor.

It is not just homeless people who are affected by homelessness. According to experts, tackling the issue would improve everything from long waits at emergency rooms, where a lot of homeless people go for health care, to lowering the crime rate, even improving Raleigh's overall image.

Meanwhile, Raleigh Mayor mayor Charles Meeker remains optimistic the city actually can end homelessness.

"It's an attempt to try and solve the problem of the homeless person," Meeker said of the 10-year plan.

It is an ambitious plan to say the least, but one many people are counting on.

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