NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — Numbers for 2019 are now available for the annual “Point in Time Count” of homeless people in New Hanover, Brunswick and Pender counties, and the totals are up by more than 30 percent over last year.
The Continuum of Care conducts the survey every year under the Cape Fear Council of Government.
Maegan Zielinski with the Continuum of Care says the group counted a total of 431 homeless individuals.
She says that number has gone up by almost 100 since 2018. She says reasons for the rise could include a more accurate database system and a lack of housing options after Hurricane Florence.
Zielinski says some of those people do have some sort of shelter, but quite a few do not.
With the hot temperatures lately, people need a place to stay cool.
The Good Shepherd Center in Wilmington says they always try to house as many people as they can. But when the weather heats up or drops down really low, they use a white flag system.
Kyle Abrams with the Good Shepherd Center says they put white flags up outside during extreme weather conditions like heat, cold weather or hurricanes.
Usually, he says they allow people to stay for a 90-day period. But when the white flags are up, they will accept anyone in good standing, even if you have already finished your 90-day stay.
“We actually do something similar to what we do in the winter time and what we call white flag,” Abrams said. “What that is is that anybody who’s in good standing but may not be staying with us currently, can come and stay. we literally put a white flag out and word gets around town that we have a white flag.”
Abrams says they have 118 beds and they accept guests from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Abrams says they also have breakfast and lunch open for anyone to drop in. During these hot days, he says they also make sure everyone gets enough bottled water.