RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A drop-in shelter in Raleigh is getting even more use than expected, but advocates say there’s a need for more shelter beds and other types of services for people without homes in Wake County.
Wesley Walker Jr. takes pride in his work as the day shift supervisor of the Bryant Center, a drop-in shelter in downtown Raleigh. He knows how important it is to have a clean and welcoming environment.
“I was pretty much homeless for 8 to 10 years,” he explained. “I was living in abandoned cars drug houses sleeping on people’s house couches anywhere I can find a place to sleep.”
Some nights he slept in shelters like this one. “I can help these guys,” he noted. “I can talk to them sometimes when nobody else can because I’ve been there; I’ve done that, and they hear me.”
It’s that kind of support that Pastor Vance Haywood, of St. John’s Metropolitan Community Church, says can save lives, along with having a safe warm place to get people off the streets. The church partnered with the City of Raleigh and Wake County to establish the drop-in shelter.
“It’s a matter of life and death,” said Haywood. “It is a matter of getting people hope to make it through to the next day.”
The drop-in shelters in Raleigh have been open for the past three weeks and Haywood says the one for men on Cabarrus Street is already bringing in about 100 men per night. There is also a shelter for women, and one that can accommodate families. That number is expected to rise when the weather gets colder. “We’ve seen a larger demand than I think what we expected,” he said.
At Monday’s meeting, Wake County Commissioners got an update on drop-in shelters and heard about a study that evaluated shelter needs in Wake County. Among others, the study found a need for a permanent drop-in shelter, shelters with private spaces for families, and places that offer shelter and services during the day.
“They need a place in the daytime,” said Walker Jr. “When they leave here at 8 o’clock in the morning, a lot of times, they don’t have anywhere to go. They may be looking for work. They may be working a job and they don’t have anywhere to go they’re still homeless.”
The shelter is currently set to stay open until April, but the county is looking into a permanent drop in shelter. Click here to find out more about drop-in shelters.