By John Bailey
HICKORY – Last year, more than 9,600 calls were placed to the United Way’s 2-1-1 community help line asking for information about low-cost housing while more than 14,000 calls were made about shelters, according to nc.211counts.org.
In Catawba County, 603 calls for help with housing and shelter were made to 211, and again these were only calls made to the information and referral service. It does not represent the total need.
To help understand the scope of the issue in Catawba County, the Housing Visions Continuum of Care group is preparing to conduct the annual Point in Time (PIT) count of homeless individuals at the end of this month. The purpose is to collect data that identifies gaps in services as well as barriers that prevent individuals and families from becoming successfully housed.
During the count process, homeless individuals and families are also provided with some much-needed items which are collected from the community.
These items include batteries, flashlights, combs/brushes, ponchos, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, sleeping bags, gloves, first aid kits/band-aids, backpacks (gently used or new), socks and toboggans/knitted caps.
Items need to be received by Jan. 22 and can be dropped off at the Catawba County United Way located at 2760 Tate Blvd. in Hickory, 828-327-6851.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires the PIT count for a community to be eligible for government funding used to address housing issues.
“We’re also able to reach out to those that are homeless and may need services but don’t know where to go, how to access the services or even what is available to help them,” Teena Willis, Housing Development Manager for Partners Health Management said.
Last year, 325 individuals were counted in Catawba County. The previous year the count was 332.
Tax deductible monetary donations to help with the PIT can be made to the Catawba County United Way. Include “homeless initiatives” in the memo section. One hundred percent of the donations go to the homeless initiatives through the Housing Visions Continuum of Care.
For more information contact Teena Willis at Partners Health Management, email@example.com, 828-323-8084 or call the Catawba County United Way at 828-327-6851.