LUMBERTON — The snow that delayed last week’s plans to open temporary shelters and count Robeson County’s homeless population may be a blessing disguised in white, according to the event’s chief coordinator.
Rhoda Emanuel, the regional leader for the Southeastern Regional Housing Committee that oversees housing issues in Robeson, Scotland, Bladen and Columbus counties, said Friday that plans for the the county’s annual Point-in-Time Count event continue to grow.
“This year’s event will probably be more successful than originally planned because it has built momentum because of the storm,” she said. “We are getting a tremendous number of volunteers. That represents people in Robeson County are concerned about their homeless population and are willing to get involved.
“People are really chomping at the bit to participate,” she said. “The volunteer spirit and compassion that has been shown is great.”
The temporary shelters are scheduled to be open from 6 p.m. Monday until 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 be able to get a hot meal and shower, receive free flu shots, HIV testing and other medical screening, and be provided information concerning services and programs available to the homeless and veterans.
The annual Point-in-Time Count is the one designated 24-hour period each year that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development allows municipalities and counties across the nation to amend their census populations to include the homeless. Those dates this year were Jan. 29 and Jan. 30
Emanuel said that despite the snow homeless people who gathered Wednesday at locations usually providing services to the homeless, such as My Refuge, Lumberton Christian Care Center, and the Robeson County Church and Community Center, were counted. She said that she will not know for sure the number of homeless that were documented Wednesday until she collects the completed surveys from shelter operators on Monday.
Those people who use the shelter Monday night will be asked where they spent the night of Jan. 29, Emanuel said. Those individuals who were not counted on Wednesday will be added to the total number of homeless that will be reported to HUD.
According to Emanuel, the total number of homeless counted in Robeson County last year was 85.
“People, including law enforcement, have been putting the word out to the homeless that the shelters will be available on Monday,” Emanuel said. “From communication I’ve received back from law enforcement, some homeless individuals have said they will be coming to the shelter.”