Police say Wilmington too inviting for homeless

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Submitted: Wed, 09/11/2013 - 8:38pm
Updated: Thu, 09/12/2013 - 3:15am

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Police say the homeless population continues to grow in the Port City, and it did not happen overnight.

Over the past few days Wilmington has seen several incidents involving men and women who call the streets home.

“I have ran into over my career, whether it’s Myrtle Beach or Clinton Police Department, transporting homeless people here and dropping them off,” WPD Lt. Michael Fanta said.

Fanta has spent the last 18 years serving and protecting the streets of Wilmington. He was one of the officers who responded to a body found Wednesday morning on N. 3rd St. Police say the victim, Kendrick Glenn Gore, 50, lived under the bridge where his body was found.

Fanta says Wilmington’s reputation for helping has made it a place homeless people seek out.

“I think that the message that it sends is that there are a lot of civic groups, organizations and churches that like to provide assistance to these people in the homeless community. The problem is that this assistance that they are providing is allowing the homeless community to flourish here in Wilmington,” Lt. Fanta said.

Not everyone agrees.

The Good Shepherd Center in Wilmington provides meals and beds to help people get back on their feet.

“We all have a responsibility to repair the world and take care of one another, and I think if someone has hit hard times, that it behooves all of us to do what we can to help our fellow brother and sister,” Good Shepherd’s Jane Birnbach said.

For now, both charities and police are tasked with dealing with the city’s homeless hoping for a day the numbers get better.

Police are not the only tool the city is using to deal with homelessness. Back in 2008 Mayor Bill Saffo appointed a steering committee to oversee the development of a 10-year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness.

Today we could not reach anyone involved in the project.

A link to the plan on the city’s website brings up a photo of a tree.


  • Yes there is crime in the homeless population, but most crime is still committed by people who have homes. And though homeless services attract homeless people, the truth is, they need those services so to get out of homelessness. Homelessness is not a “police” issue, nor is it a “religion” issue. It is a health issue, and the only people who are going to be successful at ending homelessness are the health and human services professionals. There are programs available, such as Housing First, that has been proven successful at reducing homeless populations. It is time for people to stop pointing fingers, and stop trying to confuse the issue with inane political banter, and get serious about dealing with the issue.

  • stephanie says:

    I am a mother of 2 children, yes a Christian, Girl Scout leader active in my community. Even helped out at a shelter with serving food. Well, guess what!? Due to extreme joblessness and no way to leave Wilmington to find work elsewhere, my children and I are homeless and living in a shelter. We are not bears or cock roaches, we dont pee in your yard nor do drugs or steal. Most of the people I have spoken with at the shelters don’t either. My story is not unique, there are lots of families like me out there and it is only going to increase. Church groups, civic groups and individuals that come dish food on a plate is a very noble task. Some people I suspect do it and thank God that they are not “like us” But from what I have seen from my perspective is we dont so much need people to dish food on a plate and pity us behind our backs BUT those said groups to take a more active role and actually mentor or even take a single mom and her children into their home or somehow be supportive to us.I am lucky I have a car but many parents do not. Many of us have no family or social support and are alone. Before I fell on hard times, I was working full time making $13 an hour.


  • Debbie Grigsby says:

    Dear Mother of 2:

    I agree with everything you are saying. I have found as I research (because I soon will be homeless) that there are many shelters designed for men, addictive behaviors, and domestic violence. My husband and I do not fall into any of those categories. My husband is applying for disability and I also applied for disability d/t being layed off and giving in to the health problems I have been struggling through for years. We get food stamps, so we are not hungry. What we need is a safe roof over our heads and a bed to sleep on. Too many abandoned houses here is Wilmington, and many more new ones being built.

    I don’t think the homeless are “flocking” here. The homeless are from “here”.

    I just want to wish you and your children “good luck”. If I could help you, I sincerely would take you in. I love your last sentence and wanted to let you know. :)

  • Debbie Grigsby says:

    I am 56 years old and a retired RN d/t a disability. I have been laid off from other types of jobs twice in the past 5 years. I am repeatedly turned down from jobs or NEVER hear back from ones I apply to. Due to not being able to pay my rent now, I will soon be evicted. Not wanting to have it come as a shock, I have started looking into what I can do and where I can go. Not finding any help at this time. Section 8 is closed. Shelters only for men, people with addictions, for domestic violence. I don’t fit any of those. I already get food stamps, so food is not an issue. What I need is a roof over my head and bed to sleep in. Is that asking too much? I would gladly live in an abandoned house. I have a tent and camping supplies. I would not be a “problem” homeless person. I have about 5 more years until I can retire officially. What can I do in the meantime? I just want to survive.

  • Just Another Commentator says:

    Homelessness is a serious social problem for everyone, there are no winners. As we search for solutions it is surely important to consider the many causes or co-existing conditions associated with homelessness. The point of this comment is to share the statistical value representing homelessness and mental health challenges. Studies consistently reveal just slightly over 4 times the rate of mental health issues amongst individuals who are homeless as present in the mainstream U.S. population. In addition, similar studies reveal a very high estimated presence of substance abuse amongst those who are homeless, at approximately 38%. These are not human challenges that go away just because a policy is changed, they have to be treated. We have a truly multidimensional challenge as a community and more broadly as a society.

  • beach guy says:

    The first thing we need to look at is the salaries of the directors of these non profits… misery as well as religion is big business if these folks are truly serving the community out of compassion and religious conviction it should be for free. If you remove the public funding and then make a non profit report salaries publicly and publicize them (WWAY) you would stop all the private funding because everyone would see where their good intentions are going.
    I know this sounds hard and devoid of compassion but we need to stop encouraging folks to give up. At the very least we should stop importing other towns and cities problems.

  • noeasyanswer says:

    It seems to me, being a citizen & property owner in this this city for 20 years, that the chronic homeless of this city have taken over downtown Wilmington. Every park, the library @ Chestnut Street, & places for civic handouts have inundated the downtown. Nothing against the organizations that try to help the less fortunate, but you are doing the property owners (taxpayers) of downtown Wilmington a disservice when you make it easy for the chronic homeless to litter & continue to multiply in our downtown. Please take them to live in your neighborhood and see how your neighbors react! When you feed cockroaches you indeed get more cockroaches & the problems that they bring.

  • Morty Sussman says:

    You are not allowed to feed the bears in US parks because it makes them dependent and ruins their ability to feed themselves. Don’t feed the homeless! It just attracts more homeless sponges as you bleeding hearts are finding out! It is time to harden our hearts and realize not every person is supposed to survive in this world.
    “The dollar given is an evil dollar.” Ralph Waldo Emerson.

  • GuestMan. says:

    You have a really hard way of looking at things, don’t you? You really don’t care if a kid has no where to stay or if their parents die?
    These are human beings, not bears we are talking about.
    I’m glad I’m a bleeding heart liberal instead of someone with your point of view and I hope you never need help and run into someone like yourself.

  • troy says:

    Lt fanta, what is your remedy ? People of wilmington should be proud that we are looked upon as a beacon by the homeless. If they are getting fed and taught how to get back on their feet here in Wilmington, then they arent having to steal in smaller communities that dont have resources to deal with them. Nothing wrong with a helping hand.ii

  • Common Sense says:

    The Police Department’s job is NOT to cure homeless or provide assistance to the homeless. It is called Law Enforcement. So his job is to try to stop the flood of CRIME that comes from the homeless. Many are criminals and are being sent here from other areas that solve their CRIME by shipping them away. The point he was probably making is that Wilmington having a reputation from other areas and in the homeless community as homeless friendly increases CRIME in Wilmington. So if you love the fact Wilmington is being so kind to them then do not complain about the CRIME.

  • Concerned Citizen says:

    Anyone who tells you they have a plan, whether its a 10-year plan or 30-year plan, that can end homelessness in our city, is delusional. The better we treat homeless folks, the more word will get around and the more will come. In the meantime, that will make the city less desirable for folks who actually contribute to society. Now I reckon not every homless person wants to be so, but I also know, as a former deputy, that a lot, maybe most, of them do not care to help themselves either. Its just an ugly fact – but still a fact. Wishful, brotherly thinking does not change facts.

  • GuestME says:

    What’s up with the tree pic? How is a persimmon tree going to end homelessness? I’m seriously confused…

  • Back to the Founders says:

    “I am for doing good to the poor, but…I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. I observed…that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer.”
    ― Benjamin Franklin

  • Guest123 says:

    A ten year plan to end homelessness? Good, what is the plan? In these days and times of all those home foreclosures there is said to be more families homeless sleeping in a car or woods etc, hungry children and elderly. the homeless are not all a bunch or druggies . They have to live somewhere! I say Wilmington should be proud to be known as a city who helps the homeless have food, shelter and at times a hand back up in this hard life.
    I’m proud to live in a compassionate place such as this.

  • Common Sens says:

    You ever here of Not In My Back Yard… NIMBY.
    You I guess would be a NIMBY… you are so Christian until they are in your neighborhood urinating out in the open, dropping trash, begging for money, stealing, loitering on a corner drinking beer.
    Then all of a sudden you will be complaining to the Police about these vagrants.
    I do not think Lieutenant Fanta was taken out of context… he is a veteran cop that knows the price a city pays when people are being bused in from around the US that cities/towns are trying to get rid of…for a reason.

  • Winston Smith says:

    I’m going to purposely make the assumption that Officer Fanta was taken out of context when quoted for the story I just read regarding the issue of homelessness in Wilmington. If not, I would have to honestly say the man lacks any form of spirituality or concern for his fellow man which is frightening to say the least. I’ve heard this type of ugliness before in the form of Bussing the homeless off to another city via Jason Thompson. This same argument has been going on all around the United States, the country where 78% of the population claim to be Christian. The collapse of the Mental Health system has played a strong hand in the growth of the homeless population. The VA became distressed as a recent figure indicated that 1 in 4 of the homeless are veterans. What has happened to this society when people begin look upon one another with such derision that we stop caring for our fellow human being or begin to treat one another as though we are less than human. Something is very wrong with this thinking. We should be ashamed that anyone is homeless in a country which has always claimed to be a model society which has in reality become the model of hypocrisy to the entire world.

  • ChefnSurf says:

    Good Shepherd House helps plenty of people. Should they be obligated to help the entire universe by providing 24 HR housing and all of their meals? Are you being facetious or just being a jerk?

    Soooo …. How much have you contributed to helping the homeless?

    If you have no answer, I’ll just assume you’re a jerk.

  • Guest999 says:

    But the truth is you (The Good Shepard House) does not help these people. If so they wouldn’t hang out in the woods or some business or even at the hospital. You are not 24 hrs for people who have nowhere to go. You have to have an ID card in order to get in (even when they been there before). So many people have been turned away. Yes you do help some but shouldn’t it be help all not some?

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