Raleigh’s Homeless Crisis

Raleigh has a homeless crisis.

The McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987 is a United States federal law that provides federal money for homeless shelter programs. It was the first significant federal legislative response to homelessness, and was passed by the 100th United States Congress and signed into law by President Ronald Reagan on July 22, 1987.

According to the McKinney-Vento Act definition for homelessness, in 2018 there were 4365 children in Wake County classified as homeless – a 100% increase over 2014. Many, if not most, live in Raleigh. Numbers for 2019 were not yet available.

Most are in families that earn less than $30,000 a year. The general requirements to obtain an apartment are the following:

Your gross income must be at least 3x the rent.

You must not have been evicted within the last 7 years

You must not have had a felony conviction within the last 7 years (for example, a drug conviction)

I obtained this information while visiting one of the largest shelters for homeless women and children in Raleigh on Capital Blvd yesterday. They are at capacity with 110 residents.

All of our shelters combined are unable to handle the growing numbers. We have a crisis and need to now give it our full attention.

What we need are 1500 to 2000 housing units to house these families. We also need services to help them stand on their own – education, training, counseling, drug rehabilitation, and ultimately jobs. It is not an insurmountable problem. Let us work together to meet this need.

4 Replies to “Raleigh’s Homeless Crisis”

  1. Thanks David. You are one of the few Councilors who is willing to dig for the data that defines the extent of Raleigh’s human suffering – especially homeless children.

  2. At the $30K threshold, it may seem pretty simple to find a job paying $14.50 hour and an apartment for $883 a month. However, there are realities for the homeless that are no different for the homeless than they are for anyone else.

    Taxes, food, lights, insurance, gas, car note, and rent. Nothing’s different unless you are saving something from your paycheck.

    Taxes take a minimum 15.25% of your pay. If you have minor dependents, you can lower that rate and opt out of the federally enforced savings plan to some degree.

    However, if you are living under a tree homeless, you aren’t likely to get a $14.50 job. The State of North Carolina allows employers to pay $7.25 /hr. Take 15.25% in taxes off the the gross and your take home is $6.14 an hour. Think about that… $12,780.30 in disposable income or about $1065 a month.

    And that’s not the the reality of the waitress or the busboy serving you lunch. Cut it in half.

    Then the homeless shelters are underfunded. There aren’t enough of them. They are dangerous to inhabit because the staff typically does not get involved in criminal activities that occur daily, if not hourly.

    What’s worse, is that some of these shelters are compelled to accept recently paroled convicts in addition to the mentally disturbed. This combination of desperate and near hopeless creates an institutional circumstance for the people who are simply homeless.

    Their civil right are ignored and the security on site isn’t there to protect the residents. They only serve to address the staff’s security interests. Thus assaults, thefts, and extortions occur in these homeless shelters regularly.

    This is the reality of homelessness in Raleigh, NC.

    The solution is a real question of what the city’s current administration has in mind for taking care of this large number, (and growing) of citizens.

    Stadiums are nice, but will they have more purpose than profit for construction firms and entertainment corporations?

    People will and do become homeless for many reasons. Raleigh is the capital of North Carolina. That implies that the leadership that congregates here regularly can and will rub off on the residents who live here. If that’s so, this condition of homelessness in our capital needs to be addressed.

    We want better.

  3. So what do we need to do? How can we fix this problem? Have we looked into what other cities have done to provide housing?

  4. This crisis should be a priority! Not spending more than needed on bus shelters and not spending another penny on Dix Park – that’s not where I want my tax dollars going. I’ve been in the Raleigh area for over 40 years and have seen the homeless population grow significantly, particularly over the last few years. In a county of such wealth and education, this is a disgrace. We can and should do better.

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