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Advocates call for movement on projects to help homeless


The Rev. Stuart Collick stood before the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Homeless Committee on Tuesday and begged its members to step up as leaders and get projects moving on behalf of the homeless.

The Homeless Committee met at the Cumberland County Department of Social Services to hear a presentation on the CARE Family Violence Program, and to receive updates on an array of topics, including nonprofit workshops, a homeless strategic plan, the Continuum of Care, the Day Resource Center and homeless shelter planning.

Toni Stewart, vice chairwoman of the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, heads the committee. Fayetteville City Council member Courtney Banks-McLaughlin represents the city.

During the public forum, speakers advocating on behalf of the homeless expressed their desires to see a Day Resource Center for the homeless come to fruition sooner rather than later.

Dr. Val, the only name she provided, said the Day Resource Center needs to be open now, especially during rainy weather.

During the meeting, Fayetteville Assistant City Manager Telly Whitfield announced the city recently awarded the contract for building the Resource Center at 128 S. King St. The city also put out a request for proposals for someone to manage the facility. Completion of the $5 million project is expected in 2023.

Collick said the 2023 completion date is frustrating for him. The proposed facility has been promised for the past five years, he said. Also, a suitable building is now on the proposed site. He said the current building could be used for the temporary storage of personal items belonging to homeless individuals. He said an NFL team has promised to provide lockers for such a facility.

In other matters, Amy White, head of the DSS's Care Center, gave a presentation on services provided by her department. The services include crisis line assistance, a safe house for victims of abuse, an advocacy program that helps victims become familiar with the court system, a court liaison who guides a client through legal options available to them, counseling for family members, support groups for women and children who are victims of violence, educational and outreach services, and the resolve program designed to teach abusers to cease violence in their family relationships.

Debbie Brown, chairwoman of the Fayetteville/Cumberland County Continuum of Care on Homelessness, reported a 7% increase in homelessness in the U.S. from 2019 and a 30% increase since 2015. Unsheltered homelessness has grown even more, she reported. Between 2019 and 2020, the number of unsheltered has increased by 21%. With the rise of unsheltered homelessness, many communities have experienced a rise in encampments not seen since a century ago.

Brown said unsheltered homeless individuals suffer greater health issues compared with those in shelters.

“We don’t want the same thing here as at the West Coast,” she said, referring to the thousands of encampments there.

After the meeting adjourned, audience members told Stewart that much of the committee discussions and reports could not be heard. Presenters either did not have working microphones, did not speak into the microphones, or had their backs turned to the audience. Stewart agreed and suggested a different way to set up the meeting room for upcoming meetings.

Jason Brady covers Cumberland County government for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at jbrady@cityviewnc.com.

Fayetteville, Cumberland County, Fayetteville-Cumberland County Homeless Committee, Day Resource Center, homelessness, homeless encampments