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Edgecombe County To Aid Those Needing Indoor Plumbing

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ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. — Hard as it might be to believe, about 19,000 North Carolinians are lacking what many other state residents take for granted -- indoor plumbing that includes a sink, a shower or tub, and an indoor toilet.

Even on the coldest nights this winter, thousands of people in the state have walked outside -- through the snow and ice -- to an outhouse.

"You have to come out," said a Nash County man, who didn't want to give his name. "You've got to go. You've got to go somewhere. You can't do it inside the house. You've got to come out."

The man said his family would be thrilled to have an indoor bathroom and hot water. He's one of 800 people in Nash and Edgecombe counties who don't have indoor bathrooms.

A Rocky Mount church is trying to help many of them.

Ebenezer Missionary Baptist has been replacing homes for flood victims. Now, it's adding indoor plumbing to its list.

Edgecombe County is also trying to help. It has a $400,000 grant from the state for homes needing urgent repair.

County officials say the grant money can't go far because there's a $30,000 limit on each home. They say some of the homes are so far gone that $30,000 is just the beginning.

Senior citizens, single parents and people with disabilities are at the top of the priority list.

Some county commissioners believe landlords should be required to install indoor bathrooms. But others worry that a new regulation could do more harm than good.

In some cases, the repairs could cost more than the rent, leading landowners to consider not renting at all.