Annual point in time count of homeless finds 238 in Rowan

Published 4:25 pm Thursday, February 9, 2023

SALISBURY — Rowan County had 238 people living in shelters, outside, in cars, or in structures not suitable for human habitation during the week of Jan. 25 through Feb. 1 as staff from Rowan Helping Ministries and partner agencies conducted the annual point in time count of the homeless.

Every January, communities across the country, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), conduct a census of people living in sheltered and unsheltered conditions in order track annual trends in homelessness and changing community needs.

This year’s count found 155 people were sheltered and 83 unsheltered countywide. Of those, 59 of the sheltered individuals are living independently in transitional housing either on Rowan Helping Ministries’ campus or in housing funded by the Back At Home Program.

To kick off the count, Rowan Helping Ministries hosted a Community Connections resource fair on Jan. 25 in Jeannie’s Kitchen. In order to engage neighbors experiencing homelessness in the count, more than 30 community partners including Goodwill Career Connections, Cabarrus Rowan Community Health Centers, Legal Aid, Communities in Schools, Salisbury Police Department, Terry Hess Child Advocacy Center, Rowan-Salisbury
School System, Walgreens, Salisbury Rowan Community Action Network, Novant Health Rowan Medical Center, NC Works, Healthy Blue, and the Salisbury Veteran’s Administration Medical Center offered supportive services to attendees. Among the services provided were a mobile clinic, flu shots and COVID vaccine boosters, and connections to employment.

In past years, a large group of staff and volunteers have come together to conduct the count, which often stretches late into the frigid January night. This year, due to the coordinated efforts of Rowan Helping Ministries’ Homeless Street outreach team, a partnership with Salisbury Police Department Homeless Liaison, Dennis Rivers, Rowan Helping Ministries Outreach to Housing Coordinator Dianne Bruce, and GPD Veteran Case Manager Solomon Tafari, most unsheltered citizens in the county were contacted and recorded prior to the deadline.

Rowan Helping Ministries’ Homeless Street outreach team conducts weekly visits to areas of the community where the homeless live and connects homeless community members with services with the goal of attaining permanent housing. In the past year, the outreach team engaged 229 individuals and connected them with an array of services, including shelter access, permanent housing, bus and train tickets, drug and alcohol detox, medical assistance, and photo IDs. Rowan Helping Ministries provides a range of services to individuals and families experiencing homelessness, including
food, clothing, financial assistance, temporary and permanent housing, and support for education and employment. The data collected during the 2023 Count gives Rowan Helping Ministries a better snapshot of the population it serves and will help the organization determine its future funding needs as it works to help clients find their pathway home.