Questions about the timing and assessment of a federally mandated count of the homeless population were discussed Wednesday at a meeting of the Fayetteville-Cumberland County Liaison Committee.
The committee, chaired by Mayor Pro Tem Kathy Jensen, heard reports from Community Development Director Dee Taylor on the status of the yearly count of homeless people in Cumberland County. The “point in time” count is a snapshot of the number of homeless people in shelters and living on the streets, according to Taylor.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development currently is assessing the count. Community Development Department volunteers conduct the count on a single night in January, a time mandated by HUD. The annual count is required by HUD, which provides funding for programs that support the homeless.
Jensen asked why the count was conducted on the last day of January.
“Is that written in stone?” she asked.
Taylor said that HUD mandates when the count is done.
Jensen questioned whether a winter date is appropriate to ensure a correct count.
Jensen suggested that city and county officials ask HUD through a joint resolution whether there is a more suitable time of year to get a more accurate count based on weather patterns in Fayetteville and Cumberland County.
She also asked about the status of HUD’s vetting of the count. Taylor said the assessment would typically have been completed by now. She expects HUD to send the report back within a week.
In other business Wednesday, the Liaison Committee was updated by Fort Bragg Deputy Garrison Commander Kevin Griess on upcoming command changes, preparations for the post’s July Fourth activities, and a symposium for the Association of the United States Army to be held at Bragg this July. The AUSA typically holds an annual symposium in Washington, so having one on Fort Bragg is unusual. It will bring military leaders and representatives of military-related businesses to the area.
Griess said people planning to attend July 4 activities on post that are open to the public should consider getting gate passes early to alleviate bottlenecks at entrances to the post.
Fayetteville City Councilwoman Courtney Banks-McLaughlin broached the idea of forming a city-county partnership to advance planning for an indoor aquatics center. Banks-McLaughlin said since the Liaison Committee meeting also included representatives of Cumberland County Schools and Fort Bragg, it was a good forum to present the idea.
She said the suggestion of an indoor aquatic center came from the City-County Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee and was previously presented to the City Council.
“I just want to see if there’s an appetite for this,” she said.
“We need a lot more information,” said County Commissioners Chairman Glenn Adams, noting that only three of the seven members of his board were at Wednesday’s meeting.
Jensen said Banks-McLaughlin was “just asking us to start a conversation to make this happen,” adding that it was a county representative on the Recreation Advisory Committee who presented the idea to the City Council.