Crews break ground on homeless center in Wake County

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Thursday, June 21, 2018
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New center under construction to help Wake County's homeless

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Construction crews are busy working on a Raleigh facility that is meant to make homelessness rare and brief in Wake County.

The Oak City Center is going up along Wilmington Street. A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Wednesday.

The center will help those who are homeless or teetering on the verge of it.

"Many of us have waited literally years and labored for this day to happen," said Wake County chairperson Jessica Holmes.

She explained the project is deeply personal for her. Holmes was homeless as a child and bounced around to various shelters.

"Opening the Oak Oity Center is very important to me," she said. "Individuals are now able to go to one place and have their needs met. So that means they have to tell their story once. As someone who has experienced homelessness personally, I know that it's difficult to tell your story. It's difficult to have to go to different places to get the services that you and your family."

Officials estimate that 5,000 people in Wake County experience homelessness each year and there is no place they can access all the resources they need.

The center will soon provide folks with medical care, employment training, and housing.

"Without housing, how do you get up and go to work every day?" said Raleigh/Wake Partnership to End and Prevent Homelessness Executive Director Abbie Szymanski. " Housing really is a bottom line need for everyone."

"Sometimes it's not being homeless on the roof, it's being homelessness in the heart," said Bishop of the Diocese of Raleigh Rev. Luis Rafael Zarama.

Officials think they'd be able to serve 100 people a day and feed upwards of 1,500 meals on the weekends.

The center is expected to open in early 2019.