Chronic Homlessness decreases in Forsyth County
Chronic homelessness appears to be dropping in Forsyth County. Last year, there were 202 people identified as chronically homeless. But according to the Winston-Salem and the Forsyth County Ten Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness, this number decreased to 82 during this year's Point-In-Time-Count. Andrea Kurtz is senior director of housing strategy at United Way of Forsyth County. She believes this drop is in part connected to social service agencies making a significant priority change. “If we move them into housing as a first priority, that the other issues in their life become easier to deal with and treat once they feel secure and motivated to keep their housing. It is really successful in helping people make other changes in their life.”The Point-In-Time Count is the annual homeless assessment required by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Other areas of progress include the number of homeless veterans, which dropped from 43 in 2012 to 38 this year. Also in 2012, 134 homeless families were identified. This year that number decreased to 101.Kurtz says the Rapid Rehousing program is one tool helping many families get into and stay in stable homes all over the county. “It provides short-term cash assistance where we’ll pay their deposit. And we’ll stay in touch with the family anywhere from 3-24 months. So every 3 months we’ll review things with them to make sure they’re in a home they can afford or that they are connected with the services they need.”This year’s survey found a jump in the number of children in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County shelters. In 2011 during the Point-In-Time-Count, 243 youngsters were in shelters. Last year that number increased to 266.In terms of housing, Winston-Salem and the Forsyth County Ten Year Plan to End Chronic Homelessness has created more than 530 units of housing and/or vouchers for housing. This includes Hunter's Hill on Link Road and Hutton Street in Winston-Salem, which provides twelve one-bedroom apartments for those with disabilities. Also, last fall Veterans Helping Veterans Heal opened on Glenn Road near Smith Reynolds Airport. The 24-bed facility offers social service assistance, mental health counseling and some job training for homeless veterans.