Working homeless struggle in Wake County to secure warm beds for their family

WTVD logo
Wednesday, November 23, 2022
Inflation blamed in part for jump in Wake County homeless population
EMBED <>More Videos

Working by day but still sleeping in a car by night. A growing group of people in Wake County are unable to find a steady home despite being employed.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Working by day but still sleeping in a car by night. A growing group of people in Wake County are unable to find a steady home despite being employed.

They're called the working homeless and one advocate said inflation is causing more people to join the group.

Justin and Felisha Evans are trying to make it. Keeping up with rising inflation and housing costs is a struggle. They're moving from hotel to hotel because they can't afford rent.

"That's the toughest thing. Like, we can raise one thing, but we can't get it all at once. So that's what started us to the hotel," Justin Evans said. "It's been hectic. It's a lot of stuff that goes into hotels, and it's not really a place you want to raise little kids or any kids."

Last Friday, the Evan's family was put out of one of those hotels with nowhere to go.

"It's like, once my kid is situated at one hotel, I get used to it. It's like they're attached to it, then we got to open back up again. And move on. It's like, 'Where are we going?' So now I got to explain this to a two and three-year-old," he said.

Diana Powell with Justice Served NC stepped in to help through donations from the community. Last month $17,000 in donations helped families stay put in hotels.

"When I get the phone call, I hear children in the background saying that they are hungry. It's hard," Powell said.

According to the Raleigh Wake Partnership, the city's homeless population is up by nearly 70 percent compared to one year ago. A part of that group is the working homeless. People in our community who work by day, but have nowhere to stay at night.

Deshawn is also a part of that group. She's a bus driver with Wake County Public Schools, transporting children to school every morning. She doesn't make enough right now to afford rent.

"I'm registered at Planet Fitness. So I do my shower at Planet Fitness. But it's unbearable." Deshawn didn't want to share her last name. She moved to Raleigh from Georgia and just started as a bus driver in September. "I don't even know where to begin, because I can't even cry no more"

When Powell met Deshawn, the bus driver was sleeping in her car.

"We have a housing issue," said Powell. "If they even find somewhere, the rent has to be what three times four times your income. That's impossible," Powell explained.

Powell said there's also a misconception when it comes to hotels as people seek shelter

"If they can stay in a hotel paying $380 or $500 a week that they should pay to pay rent. But you got other barriers. You got people (with) criminal records. Then you got people whose credit score is very low. Yeah, it's very low."

It's barriers Justin Evans hopes to navigate through. He starts a new job on Monday and hopes it's enough to pay rent, a deposit, and other application fees. Until then, it's another hotel for Justin, his wife and their children.

"That's all we want is just a permanent house. That's all we need. We'll make it from there," Felisha said.