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Wake County Searches for Homeless Shelters Ahead of Winter

The North Carolina county has been unable to secure space to protect its homeless community during the winter months as COVID-19 has reduced the number of people that each location can house.

(TNS) — When temperatures drop to near freezing, a white flag is hoisted above Wake County, N.C.,'s homeless shelters letting people know they have a place to stay for the night.

But this year, with one cold night already this November, there isn't a safe and warm place for many to go.

"Our homeless crisis response community has been desperately looking for a place that we can use for a white flag shelter for our upcoming winter months," said Kim Crawford, executive director of Raleigh/Wake County Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness.

"We need your help," she said in a video asking for the community's help. "And we need it now."

Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the shelters would make extra room at their existing locations.

"When you put the white flag out, no questions asked, anybody can come in," Crawford said. "And we would just put cots down, or let people sit at a table and put their head down. But they would at least be warm."

Now, what little extra space the shelters had has been gobbled up by social distancing protocols

The partnership used Southeast Raleigh Table, off New Bern Avenue, as a winter shelter last year, but the plumbing couldn't accommodate 100-plus people. And the church is set to be demolished for affordable housing development.

"I have to believe that there's someone out there somewhere that has an empty building that can hold about 125 people on nights when the temperature is going to drop below 35 degrees," Crawford said.

The partnership anticipates needing to use the building for about 60 nights from Thanksgiving until April 1, with the greatest need in December and January. They would prefer it to be located on a bus route.

"Ideally, we would like one place," Crawford said. "Single men go in one entrance, and the families would go in a completely separate entrance to allow for some privacy and separation."

"This community has stepped up in a big way for those experiencing homelessness," Crawford said. "But man, dang it, it's cold. It's cold. With the number of empty buildings we have. We can help. We can do better. We have to do better because it's life and death. We have to do better."



Have a building? Contact the Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End Homelessness at 919-443-0098, ext. 1003 or email Crawford at kcrawford@partnershipwake.org. (c)2021 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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