United Way staff see reality of housing crisis at homeless count

Feb. 2, 2023




After conversations with more than a dozen individuals on Jan. 26, it was the phrase,

“I can’t do this anymore,” that stuck with Catawba County United Way’s Director of Operations Kelle Love.

This was her first time helping with the annual Point-in-Time (PIT) count, and it was eye opening despite a previous 30-year tenure with the Department of Social Services. 


She along with other members of the CCUW staff surveyed individuals at Strong Life Ministries in Conover.

Organized by the Housing Visions Continuum of Care of Catawba County, the event is a count of sheltered and unsheltered people experiencing homelessness on a single night in January. Information from the count is used to identify unmet needs so strategic outreach can be planned. The Department of Housing and Urban Development requires all Continuum of Cares to complete the PIT each year. Counts were also held at The Hickory Soup Kitchen and The Corner Table Soup Kitchen in Newton.

The annual PIT counts consistently highlight the need for more affordable housing throughout the state. 

In the last 365 days in North Carolina, NC 211 (the United Way’s community resources information line) received 42,628 calls for information about shelters; 24,937 calls about low-cost housing and 31,127 calls about rent assistance.

Love talked to one woman who said she was brand new to being homeless, barely two years.

The recent weather has made it impossible for her to stay dry and warm in her tent.

Love expected some of what she heard because of processing disability applications during her time with DSS, but it was the volume of mental health issues along with the lack of housing that surprised her during the PIT count.

“For me, I don’t look through rose-colored glasses but at the same time I’m not out there. When I’m hearing people talk about just needing to have a shower, I can’t imagine not have access to something I take for granted,” Love said.

“And while the rest of us get to crawl into a warm bed at night, I can’t imagine everything I had being soaked and not be able to snuggle up and get warm.”

Learn more about the count and data from previous years at - https://www.ncceh.org/hmis/pithic/.

For information about local housing and other community resources visit https://nc211.org/ or dial 2-1-1 or 1-888-892-1162.