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Town Pulling Together to Fight Homelessness

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Robin, a homeless man, lived in the Henderson woods for a few months.
HENDERSON — They're in the richest and poorest neighborhoods in America. They'reprobably even in your town. We're talking about the homeless. Theproblem is reaching an alarming rate in Vance County. Now, the community is coming together to find a solution.

Vance County sits on I-85, a major thoroughfare for people to stray along.A number of residents have been concerned about the problem, particularlyArea Christians Together in Service (ACTS). They're trying to get ashelter up and running before the problem becomes a crisis.

Robin is homeless. A ride around Henderson becomes a showcase of placeshe has lived. Robin stayed in the woods for two-and-a-half months. Forhim, it happened quickly.

"You get laid off. They close the company down you work for," Robinexplains. "You get behind on your rent, and they lock you out. Then,you're homeless."

Margie and her baby are homeless too. Margie travels around looking forjobs, and just tries to get by from day to day. It's a scenario that'sbecoming very familiar to Henderson and to Vance County.

"Right now we have three to four requests per week from men and homelessfamilies looking for housing," says ACTS Director, Sharon Paynter. "Wehave nowhere to send them except to Durham or Raleigh on the bus."

Churches, community groups and United Way are working together to try tocreate a homeless shelter to deal with a growing problem.

"The more we looked into it, the more we realized it is a local thing,"explains Jeff Arthurs, president of the ACT board. "We have the problemhere in Henderson and Vance County. I think that's why we've been socompelled. It is real people who need help. It has really energized usto get active and get this thing fixed."

In recent weeks, there has been an outpouring of support. Leaders atACTS hope to get the shelter up and running by November.

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