Homeless count delayed until Monday

By Bob Shiles

January 28, 2014

LUMBERTON — An effort to count the number of homeless people in Robeson County that was scheduled to begin Wednesday has been postponed because of the large snowfall expected today and tomorrow.

Temporary shelters were to have been opened Wednesday from 6 p.m. until Thursday morning at 7 as Robeson County joined other counties and municipalities across the nation in the annual Point-in-Time Count, the one 24-hour period each year that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development permits homeless populations to be included in census figures.

According to Rhoda Emanuel, the regional leader for the Southeastern Regional Housing Committee, which oversees housing issues in Robeson, Scotland, Bladen and Columbus counties, the shelters and all previously planned services that were to be provided the homeless on Wednesday will be held next week.

The temporary shelters will be opened from 6 p.m. Monday to 7 a.m. Tuesday at the Lumbee Tribe’s Boys and Girls Club on N.C. 711 just outside of Pembroke, and at the Lumbee Tribe’s Boys and Girls Club on Singletary Church Road in Lumberton. Vans will be stopping at four designated sites in Lumberton and Pembroke to transport people to the shelter.

At the shelter the homeless will have a place to stay the night, take a shower and get a hot meal. They also will be able to receive free flu shots, HIV testing and other medical screening, as well as be provided hygiene kits and information about services that can be utilized by the homeless and veterans.

Emanuel said that homeless gathering and utilizing the usual services at such places as My Refuge, the Lumberton Christian Care Center and the Robeson County Church and Community Center will still be counted on Wednesday.

“What we will do when people come to the shelters on Monday is ask them where they spent the night of Jan. 29,” Emanuel said. “Those individuals who were not counted on Wednesday will then be added to the total number of homeless that will be reported to HUD … We are trying to eliminate duplication and be as accurate in our count as possible.”

The information collected during the Point-in-Time Count is important when applying for certain grants, such as those that can benefit veterans, the homeless and poor people.