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October 09
​Wake County, Partners Add Beds to Help Women Experiencing Homelessness

Thirty-six more Wake County women experiencing homelessness can now sleep safely and comfortably indoors each night, thanks to an effort by Wake County and its nonprofit partners to increase the number of shelter beds available.

“Unsheltered women are at an increased risk of exploitation and are 44% more likely to cite abuse and trauma as a cause for their homelessness,” said Jessica Holmes, chair of the Wake County Board of Commissioners. “We have a serious responsibility to ensure the safety of all women in our community, and this is just one step in the right direction as we work towards solutions to address homelessness and Wake County’s affordable housing crisis.”

Wake County is working with Urban Ministries to build a new, larger facility to shelter women facing homelessness, but that project is not expected to be complete until next summer. To help bridge the gap, the county worked with its partners to develop an immediate solution to add 36 more beds to the existing supply to better meet demand.

Wake County’s Department of Housing Affordability and Community Revitalization worked with Healing Transitions, Pullen Baptist Church, Urban Ministries and Wake County Women’s Center to address that demand. The outcome includes adding 26 interim beds to Urban Ministries’ Helen Wright Center and an additional 10 interim beds to Healing Transitions’ facility. This brings the total number of beds available in Wake County for single women without children who don’t have a place to rest their heads to 102.

Each night, an average of 169 women in Wake County experience homelessness. Of those, 32% are unsheltered, a number that continues to grow.

“There is much more work to be done to address homelessness for our vulnerable populations,” said Lorena McDowell, director of Wake County’s Department of Housing Affordability and Community Revitalization. “But, we can’t do it alone. That’s why I’m grateful for the support of our community partners and Board of Commissioners, who enable us to address this issue head-on, in a strategic and meaningful way.”

In total, 4,500 men and women experience homeless in Wake County each year, an average of 983 people per night. The Department of Housing Affordability and Community Revitalization operates the South Wilmington Street Shelter for men and works closely with nonprofits that operate women’s shelters. The county has a goal of eliminating homelessness among veterans in 2020.


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