Report shows number of people dealing with homelessness continues to rise in Meck. County

Currently, more than 3,200 people are estimated to be homeless in Mecklenburg County.
More than 3,200 people are currently without a home in Mecklenburg County.
Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 9:20 PM EST
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Charlotte’s homeless population is steadily growing, according to a new report just put out by Mecklenburg County.

The report estimates there are 3,206 homeless people in the county, representing a three-percent increase from a year ago.

Laura Gorecki, the chief dignity officer for Project Outpour.

“We’re definitely seeing some increases,” she said. “Also, in the report it showed how much we’re losing in affordable housing, and so with those two numbers, with more people entering homelessness and affordable housing, we’re going to see increases.”

The report shows housing for low-income renters is disappearing, with availability dropping significantly over the past 10 years.

“Charlotte is growing, we have a need for more housing, and yes some of it is coming in the form of new development, but unfortunately, a lot of it is also coming in the form of tearing down the older housing stock, which is the only remaining affordable housing, and it’s being replaced with units that are frankly unaffordable for many people,” Gorecki said.

As the number of homeless people increases in Charlotte, the report says they’re staying in emergency shelters longer too. In 2015, the average stay in an emergency shelter was 66 days, compared to 126 days in 2021.

The increase in homelessness presents a challenge for nonprofit organizations and case workers.

Ed Smith is a case manager for Running Works in Charlotte, and believes the homeless population is even higher, but harder to count because homelessness doesn’t look the same for everyone.

“It’s so hard for a case manager or social worker to meet with a person that’s needing, the first thing they say, ‘can you help me with housing,’ they may have a job and other of things going on,” Smith said.

Nonprofits said people face a lot of barriers to getting housing.

Some have jobs, but don’t earn enough money to make down payments, or are recently released from prison, or have faced domestic violence issues, have a lack of guidance, or suffer from mental health problems.

“Really, more than anything we need collaboration, we all need to work together to try to figure out what solutions are best and realizing there is no one size fits all, we need all solutions in the mix,” Gorecki said.

This annual report by the county is important so people on the front lines can determine where efforts need to be directed.

Right now, that focus is on street outreach and getting resources to those not using homeless shelters.

Related: Looking into the state of housing instability and homelessness in Mecklenburg County