Rising rents and a shortage of affordable housing have contributed to more homelessness across much of the country and in parts of North Carolina. 

According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, last year there were more than 9,000 North Carolinians homeless on any given night — just over 400 in Forsyth County and roughly the same for Guilford. Those numbers may be down from their post-Recession peaks, but for individuals and families in search of shelter, and the providers working to accommodate them, the situation on the ground today remains dire.

Bo McDonald directs the Bethesda Center for the Homeless, one of the largest facilities in Forsyth County — it currently houses 70 men and 30 women. He says at this time last year when local housing facilities were full, there were roughly 240 people living out on the streets in Winston-Salem or in encampments. Today he says that number is about 10% higher, which can mean more people looking for shelter.

"As a community we could definitely use another 75 or 100 beds per night," says McDonald. "We need more beds for women. Clearly we need more beds for men because that’s the highest number that we need. We need a place that can accommodate more families." 

Another group in need of shelter he says is young people in their late teens and early twenties with nowhere to go.

"Those kids are uncomfortable staying at a place like Bethesda Center because the majority of our guests are fifties plus," he says. "There’s this kind of target market. No one is really serving them per se."

McDonald says the lack of accommodations is primarily due to costs. He adds that even with additional beds, finding sources to fund the operational expenses of running a shelter is difficult. Bethesda Center relies on federal money allocated through the city of Winston-Salem, private foundation funding through individual grants, donations from individuals and church groups, and corporate sponsorships.


300x250 Ad

300x250 Ad

Support quality journalism, like the story above, with your gift right now.