Local News

Town Pulling Together to Fight Homelessness

Posted October 10, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— They're in the richest and poorest neighborhoods in America. They're probably even in your town. We're talking about the homeless. The problem 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, particularly Area Christians Together in Service (ACTS). They're trying to get a shelter up and running before the problem becomes a crisis.

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

"You get laid off. They close the company down you work for," Robin explains. "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 for jobs, and just tries to get by from day to day. It's a scenario that's becoming very familiar to Henderson and to Vance County.

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

Churches, community groups and United Way are working together to try to create 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 problem here in Henderson and Vance County. I think that's why we've been so compelled. It is real people who need help. It has really energized us to get active and get this thing fixed."

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